Can the Kiwis forget their epic collapse of last week?
It was one of the most incredible comebacks of all time, however, the New Zealanders were on the receiving end of it. They go into this match having conceded 30 second half points in losing to Penrith 36-28 at the foot of the Mountains.
Early competition frontrunners Stgeorge Illawarra are now on a three-game skid and head across the Tasman off the back of an 18-14 defeat to their arch-rivals and defending premiers, Cronulla.
Just how NEW ZEALAND let that game slip out of their hands last week is anyone’s guess.
In fairness to Stephen Kearney’s side they barely had the ball in the second 40 minutes and when they did have it, they didn’t do much with it. It was almost as if half-time was the worst possible thing to happen to the Warriors who led 28-6.
Psychologically they will be scarred from that game and the last team they would’ve wanted to play was the Dragons who they have a terrible record against.
What was most concerning about their collapse last week was the rate in which Penrith came roaring back. The Warriors defence was breached four times in 12 minutes to see their lead become a deficit.
Up until last week the Kiwis had begun to show some resilience when it came to defending but that went right out the window in Round 10.
EFFORT COUNTS FOR LITTLE
STGEORGE ILLAWARRA’s excellent start to the season is beginning to come undone thanks to injuries.
Missing captain Gareth Widdop, they were without Australian rep Josh Dugan last week and then lost another representative in Euan Aitken in the early stages of last week’s game against the Sharks.
This has forced coach Paul McGregor to reshuffle his side who have been mighty brave in recent losses to the Roosters, Storm and Sharks.
Bar the middle game which saw them blown off the park early, Stgeorge Illawarra’s determination gave them chances of winning the other two and if it weren’t for some howlers against the Sharks then they could have upset the champs.
That said though all the effort in the world isn’t going to win you games if you can’t score points and one of the best attacking sides in the competition through 10 rounds is struggling at present, scoring an average of 16.33ppg during their three-game slide. This has plenty to do with Widdop and to lesser extent Dugan being absent which is a scenario they face again here.
STGEORGE ILLAWARRA have absolutely dominated this fixture for a long time.
The Warriors have just one win against the Red V since 2008 and that was at the end of last season. At one stage the Red and Whites had won 11 successive games over the Kiwis and seven of those were by double figure margins.
Punters take note that the game is being played at FMG Stadium Waikato where the Warriors have only played three times – and lost all three! Stgeorge Illawarra is yet to play at the venue.
We can’t believe the price about the Dragons ($2.80 @ Unibet) here even taking into account their injury toll.
They are one of the most versatile sides in the competition and have arguably the best forward pack which has caused havoc throughout the first two-and-a-half months of the competition.
Defensively they are still holding up and rank fifth in the NRL (16.9ppg) in that category while they have only just bee surpassed by the Titans as the best attacking team (23.9ppg). The Warriors are going to have to be at their best to contain the second phase play of the Dragons which is down to Jack de Belin, Paul Vaughan, Russell Packer and Tyson Frizell.
The fact remains a lot of the Dragons success is built off the forwards who have helped the side be one of the best in the competition for run metres too.
New Zealand is definitely a better side with Kieran Foran in the side but what happened last week proves they still cannot be trusted as genuine premiership contenders.
There is no doubt the boys will be fired up and angry after what happened last week but that sort of motivation can only take you so far. They still need to execute those chances into points which they did last week in racking up an equal season-high of 28 points, they are still struggling for points with only the Bulldogs, Tigers and Knights having scored less than their 174.
Points are something they will need against the Dragons defence and we simply don’t think they will have enough in them.
STGEORGE ILLAWARRA 11-20 WINNING MARGIN