MATCH PREVIEW | New Zealand Warriors vs St George Illawarra Dragons

It’s Magic Round, and the New Zealand Warriors face the St George Illawarra Dragons with both sides looking to regain respect after disappointing showings in round 8.

Team Form Guide

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New Zealand Warriors

Its makes or break time for the Warriors after suffering their fourth loss in a row in an embarrassing performance against the Newcastle Knights.

They were outplayed and outmuscled and will need a smarter gameplan. Their forwards have to bring up the intensity if they are to come away with the victory in Brisbane.

St George Illawarra Dragons

After starting strong, the Dragons fell away against an entertaining Eels side.

The Dragons will need to play for the entire 80 minutes to get the victory here, using their larger pack to dominate the Warriors up the middle.

Expect to see Ben Hunt replicate the Knights game plan of kicking to touch to prevent the Warriors large back three from having much impact.

Squad News

New Zealand Warriors

Stephen Kearney has made a host of changes to his squad after their poor performance in round 8.

The Warriors newest recruit Kodi Nikorima will make his debut for his new club in a straight swap with youngster Chanel Harris-Tavita and David Fusitu’a returns to the wing forcing Gerard Beale onto the extended bench.

Issac Luke has dropped out of the 17 with Nathaniel Roache taking the starting spot and Jazz Tevaga returning to the bench.

Adam Blair is also out due to suspension and Bunty Afoa, Ligi Sao and Karl Lawton have all been called onto the bench.

New Zealand Warriors 22-Man Squad: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2. David Fusitu’a, 3. Peta Hiku, 4. Patrick Herbert, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Kodi Nikorima, 7. Blake Green, 8. Agnatius Paasi, 9. Nathaniel Roache, 10. Leeson Ah Mau, 11. Isaiah Papali’i, 12. Tohu Harris, 13. Lachlan Burr, 14. Jazz Tevaga, 15. Bunty Afoa, 16. Ligi Sao, 17. Karl Lawton, 18. Gerard Beale, 20. Chris Satae, 21. Chanel Harris-Tavita, 22. Issac Luke

St George Illawarra Dragons

Only one change for the Dragons this week with Jai Field replacing the injured Corey Norman.

St George Illawarra Dragons 22-Man Squad: 1. Matthew Dufty, 2. Jordan Pereira, 3. Zac Lomax, 4. Timotea Lafai, 5. Mikaele Ravalawa, 6. Jai Field, 7. Ben Hunt, 8. James Graham, 9. Cameron McInnes, 10. Paul Vaughan, 11. Tyson Frizell, 12. Tariq Sims, 13. Blake Lawrie, 14. Jeremy Latimore, 15. Euan Aitken, 16. Jacob Host, 17. Luciano Leilua, 18. Mitchell Allgood, 19. Jonus Pearson, 20. Lachlan Timm, 21. Josh Kerr

Head to Head

Played: 28, Dragons 21, Warriors 7

Latest Results: Warriors 18-12, Round 21 2018

Key Battle

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With all the emphasis on the giant Dragons pack the key battle will be between Agnatius Paasi and James Graham.

In a disappointing pack, Paasi was the shining light last round and will need to deliver again. Graham is one of the most consistent props in the NRL and will be a thorn in the Warriors side all night.

Achieving dominance up front is key to victory in Brisbane, and Passi and Graham will need to lead from the front for their respective sides.

Expect to see both players contribute big metres for their teams as they slug it out in the middle of the park.

The Important Details

Date: Saturday, May 11

Venue: Suncorp Stadium

Kick-Off: 5:30 PM (7:30 pm NZ Time)

Who Will Win?

The Warriors confidence is at an all-time low, and they will be desperate to turn their fortune around, a lot of pressure will be on Nikorima to add the spark that this side is missing. The return of Afoa will give the Warriors pack some much-needed impact to combat the massive Dragons pack. The Warriors backline is electrifying; they just need to get themselves into the action.

Despite losing Corey Norman, the Dragons have a strong side, and if they can control the ruck speed, they control the game. Targeting the Warriors edges is the obvious ploy so Dragons fans should expect Lafai and Lomax to get plenty of opportunities to attack in this match.

I see the Dragons being too strong for the Warriors here. They will be hurting from their loss last week and will be looking to make a statement as they attempt to stay in the top eight.

Dragons by 10


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