Craig Cauchi previews the local derby between St George Illawarra Dragons and the Cronulla Sharks. This is what we have to look forward to.
St George Illawarra Dragons
Plenty has been written about the form of the Dragons side, with a string of poor performances placing them dead last and without a win this season. The past few seasons the Dragons attack has been pedestrian at best, relying on the effort of the players to keep them in the contest. Now that the players efforts are slowly declining – and with the speeding up of the game – the Dragons deficiencies have become more apparent. The best thing for the Dragons to do is to build back up from the basics and hope that a simple focus like that will reinvigorate their desire.
Cronulla could easily be four wins from four starts but will at least be glad they have their first points for the season. The Sharks have been inconsistent over the 80 minutes of their matches but were able to produce a quality performance to fly into Townsville and defeat the Cowboys. The Sharks right side attack was on song, with Jesse Ramien and Ronaldo Mulitalo scoring a brace of tries each. Their cohesion and resilience in defence was an aspect of the match that John Morris will be hoping they can repeat weekly.
St George Illawarra Dragons
1. Corey Norman 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Euan Aitken 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Ben Hunt 7. Adam Clune 8. Josh Kerr 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tyrell Fuimaono 13. James Graham 14. Trent Merrin 15. Blake Lawrie 16. Issac Luke 17. Matthew Dufty 18. Jacob Host 19. Jackson Ford 20. Jason Saab 21. Korbin Sims
Euan Aitken takes the spot of injured centre Brayden Williame with Matt Dufty taking the vacant bench position. Tyrell Fuimaono comes straight into the starting second row after the news of Tariq Sims wrist injury, which will keep him out for a month. Since the Dragons played this Monday – and considering their form – there is every likelihood that the makeup of the team will change by Sunday.
1. Matt Moylan 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Mawene Hiroti 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Jack Williams 14. Connor Tracey 15. Braden Hamlin-Uele 16. Toby Rudolf 17. Scott Sorensen 18. Siosifa Talakai 19. Will Kennedy 20. Royce Hunt 21. Jackson Ferris
Chad Townsend and Andrew Fifita return to the starting side while Matt Moylan has moved to fullback. Ronald Mulitalo’s injury gives Mawene Hiroti an opportunity on the wing. Toby Rudolf drops back to the interchange while Siosifa Talakai has been moved to the reserves.
Cronulla Sharks were successful in both encounters last year, a factor that should surely fire up the under performing Dragons. The local derby has ignited in the past but encounters lately have been a little too one-sided and without a packed out stadium, it will have a different feel this year. The match up between these two fierce rivals – that now share a stadium – will be the first to feature Shane Flanagan (assistant at the Dragons) against the club he coached to a premiership.
BATTLE TO WATCH
It’s really hard at the moment to pin point a particular player in the Dragons side that needs to lift to lead their side to victory – when nearly all 17 need a vast improvement in their attitude and desire. This starts with the forwards winning the middle of the field and – with Andrew Fifita back in the side – it will come down to whether opposing props Paul Vaughan and Josh Kerr can lay down a platform.
At his running best, Andrew Fifita is a damaging runner of the ball and his ability to get his side on the front food is why he is kept in high regard. Paul Vaughan has all the required credentials to match him and go one better. These two props will give their all for the opening twenty minutes and which ever one gets on top, should lead their team towards victory.
Date: Sunday, June 14
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
Kick-off: 4:05pm (originally 6:30pm)