Following a week of controversy, with their NSW Hooker dropped to reserve grade, the Tigers look to continue the recent poor form of the Dragons with another pulsating performance on Sunday afternoon at ANZ Stadium.
LAST TIME OUT
The Tigers used last week to rest and recuperate last week on their bye week, fine tuning some game plans, and allowing all the niggling injuries an extra week of healing. Their last outing in week 18 saw them put a strong performance in against the Bulldogs, the Tigers led 22 – 16 just after half time but a fast finishing Bulldogs outfit came home with a wet sail in recording a 32 – 22 win.
St George-Illawarra will be looking to put last week’s match as far in the rear vision mirror as possible as they were overwhelmed by the Titans by 20 points at Kogarah. The attacking demons that have plagued the side for most of 2016 reared their heads again as the Dragons were not able to match a young and evasive Titans side. The frustrating the of the Dragons players was evident as they struggled time and time again to post any points, ultimately conceding over 30 points for the 3rd time in 4 matches.
Battle of the Forwards: The speed of the play the ball is going to go a long way to dictating the winner of this match. The Tigers are at their best when they have good go forward and clean delivery to their outside backs. The more space and time the likes of Tedesco, Nofouluma and Simona have, the more lethal the Tigers attack is. The Dragons on the other hand are struggling and finding dominance in the forwards could be the key to reigniting the spluttering attack.
Both teams boast forwards returning from strong Origin performances with the Dragons Tyson Frizell and the Tigers Aaron Woods. These two are now the leaders of their respective packs and will both want to make early inroads to set the tone for the rest of their team. Expect the team that gets on top early in the forwards be very hard to stop in this match-up of two teams both still aspiring to finals football in 2016.
The form line between these two clubs suggests a high scoring affair could be in the pipeline with 3 of the last 4 matches putting up 62, 40 and 68 points respectively. If history repeats inself and we have some more exciting and open football on Sunday afternoon the Dragons may find themselves in some serious trouble as once the young Tigers smell blood they often put the foot on the accelerator having post 30 points or more in their last two victories.
Given their inability to score points the Dragons will want to look to slow this ruck down at all possible times, looking to frustrate the young Tigers halves into mistakes in their own half. The Tigers will want to keep the ball in play as much as possible to give the explosive and possible most dangerous fullback in the NRL – James Tedesco – as much time and space as possible to weave his magic.
Even without their NSW hooker the Tigers look to have too much firepower for a struggling Dragons outfit. Expect the Dragons to try to slow the tempo of this match down as much as possible but ultimately the speed and elusiveness of the young Tigers backs will prove too much. The Tigers look to maintain a chance to play finals football in 2016 and win by 12 points in Sunday afternoon football.
Dragons v Tigers
Sunday 4pm at ANZ Stadium
Dragons: 1 Adam Quinlan 2 Kurt Mann 3 Euan Aitken 4 Taane Milne 5 Jason Nightingale 6 Gareth Widdop (c) 7 Benji Marshall 8 Russell Packer 9 Mitch Rein 10 Tariq Simsl 11 Tyson Frizell 12 Joel Thompson 13 Jack de Belin. Interchange: 14 Mike Cooper 15 Leeson Ah Mau 16 Jacob Host 17 Jake Marketo
Tigers: 1 James Tedesco 2 David Nofoaluma 3 Tim Simona 4 Kevin Naiqama 5 Jordan Rankin 6 Mitchell Moses 7 Luke Brooks 8 Aaron Woods 9 Dene Halatau 10 Sauaso Sue 11 Josh Aloiai 12 Chris Lawrence 13 Elijah Taylor. Interchange: 14 Tim Grant 15 Ava Seumanufagai 16 Robbie Farah 17 Kyle Lovett 18 Joel Edwards