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2021 NRL Round 15 Preview, Dragons Vs Raiders

Craig Cauchi previews Saturday’s encounter between the Dragons and the Raiders. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: WIN Stadium, Date: 19/6, Time: 5:30pm

Dragons Team

1. Matt Dufty
2. Cody Ramsey
3. Brayden Wiliame
4. Gerard Beale
5. Mikaele Ravalawa
6. Corey Norman
7. Ben Hunt
8. Blake Lawrie
9. Andrew McCullough
10. Paul Vaughan
11. Tariq Sims
12. Jack Bird
13. Jackson Ford
14. Talatau Amone
15. Josh Kerr
16. Daniel Alvaro
17. Jack de Belin
18. Adam Clune
19. Poasa Faamausili
20. Tyrell Sloan
21. Zac Lomax

Team Changes

IN: Adam Clune, Tyrell Sloan, Zac Lomax
OUT:

Raiders Team

1. Bailey Simonsson
2. Semi Valemei
3. Sebastian Kris
4. Matthew Timoko
5. Jordan Rapana
6. Jack Wighton
7. Sam Williams
8. Josh Papalii
9. Josh Hodgson
10. Dunamis Lui
11. Corey Harawire-Naera
12. Elliott Whitehead
13. Ryan Sutton
14. Tom Starling
15. Emre Guler
16. Iosia Soliola
17. Joseph Tapine
18. Xavier Savage
19. Hudson Young
20. Matt Frawley
21. Ryan James

Team Changes

IN: Hudson Young, Matt Frawley, Ryan James, Xavier Savage
OUT:

Referee: Chris Sutton

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Dragons

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Zac Lomax has been named in the reserves and will be given every minute possible to prove his fitness. The team remain unchanged off the back of the disappointing outing against the Bulldogs.

Much has been made about the Dragoons reversal of form since the start of the year. They have won 2 from the past 9 games with those victories coming against the bottom two sides. Surprisingly the Dragons remain inside the top 8 but won’t for much longer if they continue their poor run of form.

Raiders

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The Raiders looked to come out of the bye round with a breath of fresh air. Their new look spine easily brushed past the Broncos. Raiders are one of the only teams outside of the top 5 that could push for this years premiership and they’ll be looking to start their run now with the top 8 in sight.

Ricky Stuart has the luxury of selecting the same 17 with the only positional change seeing Hudson Young start at lock and Iosia Soliola named on the bench. Matthew Timoko is named again in the centres after an impressive display.

PREVIEW

Both teams appeared to return to their form of 2020 with the Raiders putting in a powerful performance while the Dragons failed to get into the contest. Josh Papalii was immense running for 178 metres with 3 offloads, 29 tackles, and a typical barnstorming try. With Origin II around the corner, and the Maroons smarting, Papalii has returned with a renewed focus. He’ll be keen to send another message to the competition that the Queensland aggressor has returned to form. Meanwhile, after a five day turn around, Tariq Sims was part of a forward pack that failed to make a dent against the competition cellar dwellers. With Angus Crichton returning from suspension, he won’t want to let complacency settle in.

The battle between the two fullbacks is intriguing for a number of reasons. If the Dragons forwards fail to inject themselves on the game it will make it harder for Matt Dufty to do his thing. In the match against Melbourne, the fullback showed that his speed and passing can trouble the best defences. But if the forwards are outplayed like against the Bulldogs then they’ll be relying on Matt Dufty to make an impact in defence. Bailey Simonsson was handed the fullback role in their last match against the Broncos and looked impressive. His strong runs from the back combined well with his linking play in the backline and he looked a threat each time he touched the ball close to the line. With reports that injured fullback Nicoll-Klokstad might be moved to the centres there is a fullback position open at the Raiders. It appears the two players most likely to receive that position will be opposing each other on Saturday night.

KEY STAT

The Raiders will look to secure four straight wins against the Dragons – the red V’s last victory over the green machine was back in 2018 when Gareth Widdopp and Matt Dufty led them to a 25-18 victory.

PREDICTION

It would take a brave individual to go against the Raiders and while I’m stupid enough to be a Dragons supporter, I’m not stupid enough to tip them this week. Raiders by 20.

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