Craig Cauchi previews St George Illawarra Dragons vs Sydney Roosters on Saturday night.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
St George Illawarra Dragons
For the past month the Dragons have been trying a lot. But their efforts have only been good enough to grab a win against the last-placed Titans. They almost rallied to beat South Sydney and they kept themselves in the contest against Parramatta Eels and their last weeks opponents in the Cronulla Sharks. Despite this, they still are side playing without confidence and struggling to find their best.
Ever since their loss to the Cowboys, the Roosters have barely looked like losing a match. And in that time they have racked up some big scores against sides on the slide. Last week they overcame a spirited Warriors side and put them to the sword in the second half and all the more impressive considering a few players were missing. The Roosters are building nicely and placing themselves in a fantastic position to win back-to-back titles.
St George Illawarra Dragons
Mikaela Ravalawa had a match to forget coming up with several dropped balls and defensively not in-sync with Tim Lafai. He has been dropped to reserve grade with Jonus Pearson returning to the starting side. Jackson Ford’s strong starts have been rewarded with a starting position and Patrick Kaufusi has moved back to the bench.
St George Illawarra Dragons squad: 1. Corey Norman 2. Zac Lomax 3. Euan Aitken 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Jonus Pearson 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Ben Hunt 8. James Graham 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Jackson Ford 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Tyson Frizell 14. Jeremy Lattimore 15. Korbin Sims 16. Blake Lawrie 17. Patrick Kaufusi 18. Tristan Sailor 19. Josh Kerr 20. Jacob Host 21. Mikaele Ravalawa
The last time these two sides played, Siosiua Taukeiaho scored the final try of the match to seal the result. This encounter he will make his return from injury off the bench moving Sitili Tupouniua to the reserves list.
Sydney Roosters squad: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Topou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Sam Verrills 10. Isaac Liu 11. Angus Crichton 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Victor Radley 14. Nat Butcher 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Poasa Faamausili 17. Siosiua Taukeiaho 18. Lindsay Collins 19. Lachlan Lam 20. Billy Smith 21. Sitili Tupouniua
HEAD TO HEAD
In the last two matches between these sides the Roosters have come up trumps. Their annual ANZAC day clash appeared to be an easy win for the Roosters until the Dragons almost stole victory away with a fighting second half comeback. Latrell Mitchell and James Tedesco are two players who score well against the Dragons. The Dragons fans will be nervous heading to Kogarah this week, as though the stadium has been a difficult one for teams in the past, it has proven anything but a fortress this year.
Corey Norman will oppose arguably the best player in the game at the moment and will need to play a blinder if he is to lead his side to victory. The Dragons attack has looked lacklustre recently-and that is despite a big win against the Titans recently- and Corey Norman plays a vital role in creating try scoring opportunities for the outside backs. The Dragons will need to produce something a little different if they are too crack the Roosters defence. While it might be unfair to place all the importance of the attack on one player, Corey is still the type of player that can produce something out of nothing. They will be looking to play off the back of his adlib football and get him the ball when they produce some second phase play.
Latrell Mitchell could have a field day against a Dragons right side defence that looks faulty. Mitchell is the leading points scorer and-as of last week- the leading try scorer for the competition. If there was any game where he wanted to prove his powers heading into the finals, this would be a fantastic chance to show how he can destroy a team to pieces. The Roosters forward pack has been doing a job for them all year, which means it will come down to players like Mitchell, Tedesco, and Keary in regards to how big this score could get. Along with Mitchell leading the try scoring list, Tedesco leads in line breaks and Keary in line break assists. If these players stay true to form and aren’t properly contained by the Dragons out side defence than it truly will become a matter of how much.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday 24th
Venue: Nestrata Jubilee Stadium
Referee: Chris Sutton, Belinda Sharpe
WHO WILL WIN?
The Roosters are far too professional and experienced of an outfit to let this match slip. The Dragons will be relying on their effort to keep this encounter close but other than that, this one appears a formality. ROOSTERS 20.