The Dragons get the chance to reinforce their position at the top of the table when they host North Queensland on Saturday.
Champion halfback Johnathan Thurston is missing for the Cowboys which has added to their huge injury list and to top things off they go into this game off the back of a shock 26-16 loss to the Tigers in Townsville.
Stgeorge Illawarra are in fine form and have won four straight games, the latest of those a stunning 35-10 win over Manly at Lottoland.
TOP OF THE COMP
Dragons fans are pinching themselves as they sit on top of the premiership after six rounds.
Blessed with the best attack in the NRL (27.16ppg) and second-best defence, the Dragons have choked the life out of their opponents over the past month and have conceded an average of just 9.5 points.
Captain Gareth Widdop has been the key to their new found attack which has mainly been built off the excellent work of the forward pack headed by Paul Vaughan, Jake de Belin and Russell Packer. Last week they outran the Sea Eagles by nearly 100 metres, completed 86.1 percent of their sets and missed 22 tackles in comparison to the 39 by the home side.
At times it’s been basic football by the Dragons but it seems to be doing the trick at the moment.
Coach Paul Green has some major talent sitting on the sidelines at present.
With Thurston going down with a calf injury in the latter stages of last week’s defeat, he joins Matt Scott and Jake Granville as the big-name casualties for the Cowboys at this early stage of the season.
Ben Hampton has been named to replace Thurston but it’s no secret the winning percentage of the Cowboys does drop significantly without their talisman present.
The Cowboys have a slight edge in historical terms against the Dragons winning 15 games to 13.
When looking at games played at WIN Stadium, the teams have traded wins and losses in the past four encounters but each one of those games has been decided by six points or less.
Overall, the Cowboys have won five of the past seven encounters so off the back of that the $4.33 for a Cowboys 1-12 win @ bet365 doesn’t look too bad if you think they can win without Thurston.
You would think the Dragons will continue to march on and register a fifth straight win here.
Their attack has been sensational in the opening six weeks while their defence hasn’t been getting the credit that is deserves, however, it has taken something good to breach their line. With Thurston missing for the Cowboys, the x-factor goes out the window and with all due respect to Hampton, he isn’t the same class as Thurston.
North Queensland have shown they are desperately missing Scott’s influence in the forwards this season which is where the Dragons have usually had the upperhand on teams so far in 2017. There are troubles in Townsville especially when you consider they outran the Tigers by 110 metres, had a favourable 9-3 penalty count and still couldn’t get the job done. The 73 percent completion rate was also below what we have come to expect from the Cowboys.
The only concern with the Dragons will be if they take their foot off the accelerator considering the injury woes to the Cowboys. If they do that then they will struggle to beat the visitors, however, from what we have seen so far this season that won’t be the case.
KURT MANN 1ST TRYSCORER