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PREVIEW: Sydney Roosters vs St George Illawarra Dragons

Coming off the back of a win and scoring a try for the first time since Round 4 the Dragons will be looking to keep the momentum rolling up against the Roosters in their traditional ANZAC Day clash.

Last Time Out

The Dragons ended their 3 week trip in QLD on a positive note. After not scoring a single point in their last two games they rallied to post 18 points in the first half. A field goal was their only point in the 2nd half but they defended well and played like a team that was desperate for a win and it saw them edge out the Gold Coast who lost a game by the unique margin of 5 points two games in a row.

The Roosters backed up their first win of the season with a solid showing against the Panthers but once again came up short losing their 4th game of the season by a margin of four or less points. There were plenty of positive signs to take out of the game for them though. Latrell Mitchell played a starring role as he busted 9 tackles, made 2 line breaks and scored 2 tries and the Roosters forwards showed energy and desperation in defence as they defended three repeat sets on their line in the game.

Key Battle

Gareth Widdop vs Jackson Hastings. Both men are entrusted with the duties of leading their side around the park and whoever is best able to keep the ship steady will play a vital part towards securing the win for their team.

Widdop stood up massively for the Dragons last week. He took charge and ran the ball scoring his side’s first try, barging over close to the line. He played with purpose and made it his mission to see the Dragons prevail. It was a true Captain’s performance as he led by example and it’s that sort of leadership that will get the Dragons another 2 competition points this week.

Hastings has performed admirably as the main playmaker in Mitchell Pearce’s absence but his kicking game has proven to be a little lacking in variety and doesn’t often place the opposition under a great deal of pressure. He’ll have to work on his execution and vary his kicks if he wants to take control of the game for the Roosters and steer them to victory.

Prediction

The Dragons found some attacking flair and points last week and getting that monkey off their back will have them approaching this game with an optimistic outlook and a little confidence can make all the difference. The Roosters have had their troubles closing out games and the potential return of Cordner and Waerea-Hargreaves might not have the instant impact fans hope they will coming back from long lay-offs but their presence alone should raise the spirit of the team and inspire them.

Roosters by 4+ in a close game

SQUADS

Sydney Roosters
1 Latrell Mitchell
2 Daniel Tupou
3 Brendan Elliot
4 Blake Ferguson
5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall
6 Jayden Nikorima
7 Jackson Hastings
8 Sam Moa
9 Jake Friend (c)
10 Dylan Napa
11 Mitchell Aubusson
12 Aidan Guerra
13 Isaac Liu*
INTERCHANGE
14 Kane Evans
15 Mitchell Frei
16 Eloni Vunakece
17 Connor Watson
18 Abraham Papalii

*Isaac Liu is suspended for a week. Boyd Cordner and Jared Waerea Hargreaves are also widely rumoured to make a return.

St George Illawarra Dragons
1 Josh Dugan
2 Kalifa Faifai Loa
3 Euan Aitken
4 Timoteo Lafai
5 Jason Nightingale
6 Gareth Widdop (c)
7 Josh McCrone
8 Leeson Ah Mau
9 Mitch Rein
10 Mike Cooper
11 Tyson Frizell
12 Joel Thompson
13 Jack de Belin
INTERCHANGE
14 Russell Packer
15 Will Matthews
16 Dunamis Lui
17 Siliva Havili

Roosters fan, a club proud to be developing local juniors and being compliant with the cap. League is the greatest game of all, Tennis pretty close behind.

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