Date: 17th April 2015
Venue: Jubliee Oval
St George-Illawarra Dragons 1 Josh Dugan 2 Eto Nabuli 3 Euan Aitken 4 Dylan Farrell 5 Peter Mata’Utia 6 Gareth Widdop 7 Benji Marshall 8 Leeson Ah Mau 9 Mitch Rein 10 Ben Creagh 11 Will Matthews 12 Joel Thompson 13 Trent Merrin. Interchange: 14 George Rose 15 Jack de Belin 16 Jake Marketo 17 Heath L’Estrange.
Brisbane Broncos 1 Lachlan Maranta 2 Dale Copley 3 Jack Reed 4 Justin Hodges 5 Daniel Vidot 6 Anthony Milford 7 Ben Hunt 8 Josh McGuire 9 Andrew McCullough 10 Sam Thaiday 11 Alex Glenn 12 Matt Gillett 13 Corey Parker. Interchange 14 Corey Oates 15 Mitch Garbutt 16 Mitchell Dodds 17 Kodi Nikorima.
St George-Illawarra are aiming for five straight victories in the National Rugby League when they host competition leaders Brisbane in the match of the round at Jubilee Oval on Friday night.
The Dragons have not looked back since their round three come from behind victory over Canberra that has seen them take out unbeaten Newcastle at Hunter Stadium and a depleted Canterbury 31-6 last week at ANZ Stadium.
Brisbane edged out Sydney Roosters last week in golden point with Ben Hunt reminding National selectors that he’s worthy of a bench spot ahead of Daly Cherry-Evans. Wins over North Queensland and New Zealand Warriors has justified the Broncos top spot on the ladder.
Tyson Frizell is contesting his grading but will still be missing for the Dragons. His replacement is Will Matthews set for his sixtieth game in the top grade. Their injured list includes Dan Hunt (knee, indefinite), Jason Nightingale (foot, round 9) and Mike Cooper (hamstring, round 8).
Justin Hodges is named in the Broncos side to return from a hamstring injury. The backline reshuffle sees Dale Copley move to the wing and Corey Oates back to the interchange. Jarrod Wallace is omitted after taking an early guilty plea out of his side’s victory last week.
The halves will ultimately determine this game and both sides are full of experience in that department with Marshall and Widdop to take on live wire Milford and Hunt.
However this game’s likely to be settled in the forwards. Sam Thiaday was given a boost in confidence after his duel with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves last week and could be the game breaker again in this clash. Trent Merrin is looking to continue his good form now that his future has been decided beyond this season.
One clash worth keeping a close eye on is Eto Nabuli’s match up on Daniel Vidot. The former Dragons is set to be under pressure from Nabuli who’s speed and strength was a factor in Penrith’s VB NSW Cup premiership last season.
It’s a big boost for the Broncos to win this game who could skip clear if Melbourne (away to Sydney Roosters), South Sydney (away to in form Sharks) and Newcastle (home to Parramatta) lose. Since the merger these sides have only met once at Kogarah back in 2007 where the Dragons won 11-4.
Prediction For me it’s the Dragons to burst the Broncos bubble temporarily. Momentum is good at the Dragons and a victory here puts them in the equal lead. Dragons by 1.