The Dragons and Tigers go into this fresh off the bye.
It would have been a welcome week off from playing for both sides but for totally different reasons. Dragons coach Paul Mcgregor has named captain Gareth Widdop on the bench, with the extra week off helping the recovery time for the five-eighth. For his counterpart Ivan Cleary, it would have given him an extra few days to try and stablise his side that has had disruption after disruption this season.
The Dragons broke their three-game losing streak with a strong performance against the Warriors in New Zealand a fortnight ago, running out 30-14 winners despite missing Widdop, Josh Dugan and Euan Aitken.
Wests Tigers were lambs to the slaughter in Brisbane and were held scoreless in a 36-point romp for the home side.
STGEORGE ILLAWARRA remains relatively unchanged in early team lists from the side that beat the Warriors.
They will have barnstorming forward Tyson Frizell and Josh Dugan backing up from Origin commitments but both have been named on the bench. Kurt Mann remains in the halves while Jason Nightingale has been named at fullback.
All things being equal and the pair come through Origin unscathed, we expect them to play a part in the game on Saturday but we can’t see them starting.
You would hope to see some sort of bounce back from the Tigers in this game.
They have been pummeled in their last two games against the Rabbitohs and Broncos while registering a meagre total of eight points during that time.
A huge dent in their attacking stakes was losing Mitchell Moses to the Eels and while Jack Littlejohn has done a fair job as a replacement, the fact that their main attacking weapon (Luke Brooks) is also missing suggests points are going to be hard to come by again.
One bonus for Cleary is Moses’ replacement, Tuimoala Lolohea, has arrived from the Warriors and has been named at five-eighth.
These sides have traded wins and losses for the past five games.
Back in Round 5, Stgeorge Illawarra totally dominated the Tigers in running out 22-point winners at this ground. They have played their past three matches at the venue with the Dragons winning two of those while overall the Red V have taken four of the past five at ANZ Stadium.
Close contests aren’t a feature of Dragons-Tigers clashes with the average winning margin since 2013 being 15.3 points per game. The Dragons 11-20 (Winning Margin) represents good value at $4 @ Sportsbet.
This is the Dragons game to lose.
Yes, the price isn’t fantastic with $1.37 @ Unibet being the best price at the time of writing, however, the Tigers are a rabble and the Dragons are pretty solid so it looks the safer option.
There has been occasions where controversy has galvanised a side but with their regular halves missing we can’t see the Tigers scoring any more than two tries against one of the better defenses in the premiership. What will make it hard for Wests is their own defence has been leaking 26.33ppg and facing arguably the best attack in the competition, they face an uphill battle here.
STGEORGE ILLAWARRA 11-20 WINNING MARGIN