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2021 NRL Round 23 Preview, Dragons Vs Roosters

Josh Mercer previews the round 23 clash between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Sydney Roosters. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Clive Berghofer Stadium, Toowomba, Date: Sunday 22nd August, Time: 2:00 pm

Dragons Team

1. Matt Dufty
2. Mathew Feagai
3. Jack Bird
4. Zac Lomax
5. Mikaele Ravalawa
6. Talatau Amone
7. Corey Norman
8. Kaide Ellis
9. Josh McGuire
10. Jack de Belin
11. Billy Burns
12. Tyrell Fuimaono
13. Tariq Sims
14. Jayden Sullivan
15. Josh Kerr
16. Daniel Alvaro
17. Jackson Ford
18. Adam Clune
19. Poasa Faamausili
20. Jaiyden Hunt
21. Jordan Pereira

Team Changes

IN: Daniel Avaro, Jaiyden Hunt, Jayden Sullivan, Jordan Pereira, Poasa Faamausili, Tariq Sims.
OUT: Andrew McCullough, Blake Lawrie, Gerad Beale.

Roosters Team

1. James Tedesco
2. Daniel Tupou
3. Adam Keighran
4. Joseph Manu
5. Dale Copley
6. Drew Hutchison
7. Sam Walker
8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
9. Sam Verrills
10. Siosiua Taukeiaho
11. Nat Butcher
12. Sitili Tupouniua
13. Isaac Liu
14. Lachlan Lam
15. Egan Butcher
16. Fletcher Baker
17. Ben Thomas
18. Ben Marschke
19. Tuku Hau Tapuha
20. Brad Abbey
21. Naufahu Whyte

Team Changes

IN: Ben Marschke, Ben Thomas, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Tuku Hau Tapuha.
OUT:
Victor Radley

Referee: Chris Sutton

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Dragons

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Winning against a Penrith side with a returning Nathan Cleary was always going to be a tall order for the Dragons. They started off well, keeping with the Panthers early and only being 10 points behind at halftime. After halftime is where it all fell apart for the Dragons as the Panthers ran in tries to Dylan Edwards and Matt Burton. Replacement Talatau Amone tried to spark the Dragons when he came on the field, setting up a try for Jack Bird and scoring one himself but it wasn’t enough as the Panthers won 34-16.

Roosters

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In a see-sawing game, the Roosters defeated the Broncos 21-20, however, it was one that they had no right to win. Like their Round 11 win, the Broncos had the Roosters on the back foot for the majority of the game. Sam Walker was very quiet in attack, while Victor Radley spent too much time ball playing instead of running it. The Roosters didn’t take the lead until the 72nd minute when Sam Walker kicked a field goal for a 19-18 lead. The Broncos took back the lead when Radley gave away a penalty in front of the goalposts as Albert Kelly went for a field goal: the ensuing penalty shot gave the Broncos a two-point lead. A Captain’s Challenge call was what saved the Roosters as Thomas Flegler was penalised for a high shot on Sitili Tupounia. Adam Keighran kicked the goal and gave the Roosters a one-point win.

PREVIEW

This week Walker really need to stand up if the Roosters are to win; he was pretty much a passenger in the win over the Broncos last week. He allowed Radley and Drew Hutchison to take on the ball playing and it really wasn’t the game plan that was needed. If Walker commands the play then not only can the Roosters win but they can win by a big score. Another reason why Walker will need to step up is so that James Tedesco can play his natural game: last week he overplayed his hand so if he can take a step back that will be better for the Roosters.

The Dragons had their moments against the Panthers; if they can play like that for the whole 80 minutes then a win over the Roosters isn’t out of the question. Amone gave the Dragons a much-needed spark when he came onto the field so his inclusion into the starting side is a great move by Anthony Griffin. Zac Lomax is a good centre but last week he tried too many times to get that flick pass to Mikaele Ravalawa for the try to work. The pass came off once, and while you can’t fault the guy for trying, it did cost his side. He just needs to pick his time to do it; when he does that he will be as good as Matt Gidley was at the flick pass.

KEY STAT

In 44 meetings between these two sides since 1998, the Roosters are just ahead with 23 wins. There has only been one draw.

PREDICTION

 Roosters by 16.

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