With both teams pulling off impressive wins in a round of upsets, the Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons will look to continue developing some form and finish their season on a positive note as they face off against each other on Sunday afternoon.

Last Time Out

The Sydney Roosters put in a season-best performance against an out of form Cowboys team that struggled to trouble the Chooks. After conceding the first try the Roosters picked themselves up and took control of proceedings jumping out to an 18 point lead by the 50 minute mark on their way to a 22-4 victory. It was a game that highlighted to players and fans alike what could have been for the Roosters in 2016. Centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall was a standout performer finishing the day with a try, try assist, 11 tackle busts and running for 179m.

The St George Illawarra Dragons sent everyone’s tipping scores into disarray with a surprising 32-18 victory over the 2nd placed Cronulla Sharks. It was a performance that even the most optimistic of fans would have been hard pressed to see coming. The Dragons genuinely outplayed the Sharks who weren’t really off their game all that much. The Saints were just simply better on the night. Tariq Sims played one of the best games of his career as he took the fight directly to the Sharks forward pack scoring a rare double and getting away a perfectly timed offload that led to a line break down field finishing with Mitch Rein crossing the line. Gareth Widdop and Benji Marshall also had good games, responding well to the fierce criticism they had received in recent times guiding their team to an incredible upset.

Key Battle

The halves whose direction and ability to capitalize on attacking opportunities will win the game for their team.

Mitchell Pearce has proven to be the linchpin of the Roosters. His influence on field can’t be denied as the Roosters looked like a directionless mess in his absence against the Panthers just a week prior to their game against the Cowboys. With his return to the team though he racked up two try assists and his kicking game kept the Cows on the back foot all game. The Dragons will have to watch out as his running game can put a sliding defence in two minds and his link with his back-rowers in attack can cause the Dragons a lot of headaches if they can’t contain it.
After a merry-go-round of options at 5/8 including Aidan Guerra at one point young Connor Watson has proven to be the best option of the bunch. While he has no real kicking game to speak of, his enthusiasm to run the ball often has made him into a good attacking player who troubles the defensive line time and again with his speed and footwork. If the opposition gives him an inch to work with he’ll take a mile.

The Dragons halves pairing of Widdop and Marshall had come under fire recently for a string of poor performances but against the Sharks they managed to silence their critics and prove they had plenty of good footy to play. Widdop had a perfect night with the boot and generally whenever he is accurate with his goal-kicking he’s having a good game which he topped off by scoring the match sealing try. Benji played a stable, controlled game putting in some well-timed pin-point grubber kicks leading to two try assists. If they can exercise the same level of control and stability under pressure that they did last week then they can apply a lot of defensive pressure on the Roosters and force them into making mistakes. If the Dragons are to win on Sunday it’ll come off the back of another good performance from Widdop/Marshall.

Prediction

Both teams played what was probably their best game of the year last week and this should hopefully be a high quality contest between two teams that have rediscovered their mojo. The Dragons have slightly more to play for with the slim chance of making a finals appearance still on the cards for them but that doesn’t guarantee a good performance. If they both continue to build on their performances from last week and maintain some momentum then I honestly couldn’t pick a winner. Either side will win by 6-10 points is my best prediction

Squads
Sydney Roosters
1 Blake Ferguson
2 Daniel Tupou
3 Dale Copley
4 Shaun Kenny-Dowall
5 Latrell Mitchell
6 Connor Watson
7 Mitchell Pearce
8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
9 Jake Friend ©
10 Dylan Napa
11 Boyd Cordner
12 Mitchell Aubusson
13 Sio Siua Taukeiaho
Interchange:
14 Sam Moa
15 Isaac Liu
16 Ryan Matterson
17 Kane Evans
18 Aidan Guerra

St George Illawarra Dragons
1 Josh Dugan
2 Kurt Mann
3 Euan Aitken
4 Taane Milne
5 Jason Nightingale
6 Gareth Widdop ©
7 Benji Marshall
8 Russell Packer
9 Mitch Rein
10 Mike Cooper
11 Tyson Frizell
12 Joel Thompson
13 Jack de Belin
Interchange:
15 Leeson Ah Mau
16 Will Matthews
17 Jacob Host
18 Jake Marketo
22 Luciano Leilua