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2021 NRL Round One Preview, Dragons vs Sharks

Joshua Knox previews the final game of round one when the Dragons take on the Sharks in the local derby. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Jubilee, Date: 14/3, Time: 6:15pm (local)

Dragons Team

  1. Matthew Dufty
  2. Cody Ramsey
  3. Jack Bird
  4. Zac Lomax
  5. Mikaele Ravalawa
  6. Adam Clune
  7. Ben Hunt
  8. Blake Lawrie
  9. Andrew McCullough
  10. Paul Vaughan
  11. Josh Kerr
  12. Tariq Sims
  13. Tyrell Fuimaono
  14. Poasa Faamausili
  15. Trent Merrin
  16. Daniel Alvaro
  17. Brayden Wiliame
  18. Jackson Ford
  19. Kaide Ellis
  20. Jordan Pereira
  21. Max Feagai

Team Changes

IN: n/a
OUT: n/a

Sharks Team

  1. Will Kennedy
  2. Sione Katoa
  3. Josh Dugan
  4. Jesse Ramien
  5. Ronaldo Mulitalo
  6. Matt Moylan
  7. Chad Townsend
  8. Braden Hamlin-Uele
  9. Blayke Brailey
  10. Aaron Woods
  11. Briton Nikora
  12. Wade Graham
  13. Toby Rudolf
  14. Connor Tracey
  15. Aiden Tolman
  16. Jack Williams
  17. Billy Magoulias
  18. Mawene Hiroti
  19. Teig Wilton
  20. Andrew Fifita
  21. Braydon Trindall

Team Changes

IN: n/a
OUT:
n/a

Referee: Peter Gough

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

St George Illawarra Dragons

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The Dragons finished 2020 in a disappointing fashion, winning just one of their last five games to finish in 12th position. The addition of Jack Bird in the centres, and the experience of Andrew McCullough to the line-up, are a huge positive to the team’s chances in 2021. Corey Norman misses the clash due to an off-field indiscretion during the pre-season. The Dragons suffered a bollocking at the hands of the Rabbitohs in the Charity Shield (48-16). They also suffered two defeats in the trial matches previously, falling to the Eels and their round one opponent, the Sharks.

2021 Dragons Season Preview

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks

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The Sharks managed to scrape home into eighth position in 2020, but lost to the Raiders 32-20 in week one of the finals series. The Sharks will be without star playmaker Shaun Johnson as he battles an ongoing injury, while the rest of the team remains relatively similar to the 2020 Cronulla side. The omission of Andrew Fifita from the 17 will be a big talking point, especially if he drops off the extended bench. The Sharks suffered mixed fortunes in their trial matches, claiming a win over the Dragons before suffering a narrow defeat to the Bulldogs.

2021 Sharks Season Preview

PREVIEW

This game should give a key insight into how both of these teams will perform in 2021, with so many unknowns. The Dragons are getting no love from the pundits, with many predicting them to finish in the bottom four come season’s end. The Sharks are also looking to prove the doubters wrong in 2021, with many stating that they also won’t feature come finals time.

The appointment of Ben Hunt as captain for the Dragons has raised eyebrows, but could become a masterstroke from new coach Anthony Griffin if the side fires early. The spine will be on notice given Norman is due to return in round three and he could slot into either fullback or the halves if the likes of Adam Clune and Matt Dufty underperform.

The Sharks will be tested without Johnson, which puts Matt Moylan as my player to watch. Moylan was at the peak of the game only a few years ago when he featured for the NSW Blues. Consistent injuries since then have made many doubt the ability that Moylan does have. If he can string a number of games together in 2021, I think he will be the catalyst to driving the Sharks towards a finals tilt.

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KEY STAT

Outside of the trial match that the Sharks took 36-28 in February, the honours were split in 2020: the Dragons winning in Campbelltown 30-16 before the Sharks bit back – claiming a 28-24 victory just a month later. Mikaele Ravalawa has scored three tries in the last two regular season matches between the two, so look for him to get over the line on Sunday.

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PREDICTION

It should be a close one, with the Dragons to scrape home off the boot of Zac Lomax.
Dragons by two. 

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