A blockbuster ANZAC Day clash awaits at Allianz Stadium on Tuesday as competition leaders St George Illawarra Dragons clash with arch-rivals the Sydney Roosters.
The traditional ANZAC Day showdown between the Dragons and Roosters is always one of the most highly-anticipated games on the rugby league calendar, but the this upcoming encounter takes on a whole new meaning with both sides entrenched in the top four.
It’s been quite some time since both the Dragons and Roosters were flying high at the top of the ladder, and that is sure to add some extra spice to this already heated rivalry. Add in the emotion of ANZAC Day, and this is shaping as the match of the round.
The Dragons come into this contest as surprise competition leaders and on the back of five straight victories, including a last-start 28-22 win over a weakened Cowboys outfit.
St George Illawarra raced out to a 28-4 lead at half-time, but perhaps worryingly for Paul McGregor, they failed to score a point in the second stanza as an undermanned Cowboys team almost ran them down.
The Roosters meanwhile are just two points off the Dragons and head into this clash after a 24-6 win over the Newcastle Knights, with Trent Robinson’s team needing two late tries to seal the deal in the Hunter.
There’s really not much splitting these two sides, but as with any important game, this battle will likely be decided in the forwards and defence. Whichever pack can create spaces for the halves to perform will gain the upper hand, and then it will all be about execution.
The Dragons have enjoyed significant improvement in both those areas this season and should be well-placed to match the Roosters in that regard, meaning a close game could be on the cards.
It’s so tough to maintain long winning streaks in contemporary NRL, and coming into such a big game, this will be a huge test of the Dragon’s title-winning credentials. The Roosters haven’t really played a bad game this season and I think they will grind out a narrow win in a thriller.
- Roosters won seven of last nine meetings between the sides
- Dragons won last two ANZAC Day matches
- Dragons lead overall H2H 19-16
Josh Dugan returns at fullback for the Dragons, with Jason Nightingale going back to the wing and Kurt Mann dropping back to the bench.
Jake Friend comes back to start at hooker for the Roosters, while Kane Evans replaces the injured Ryan Matterson on the bench.
Roosters: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Joseph Manu 4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Luke Keary 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Isaac Liu 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Aidan Guerra 14. Zane Tetevano 15. Paul Carter 16. Kane Evans 17. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 18. Latrell Mitchell 19. Dylan Napa 20. Connor Watson 21. Lindsay Collins
Dragons: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Euan Aitken 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Josh McCrone 8. Russell Packer 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin 14. Tariq Sims 15. Leeson Ah Mau 16. Kurt Mann 17. Hame Sele 18. Taane Milne 19. Jacob Host 20. Luciano Leilua 21. Blake Lawrie