Craig Cauchi previews a match featuring two teams on the slide between the Dragons and Knights.
St George Illawarra Dragons Vs Newcastle Knights
Venue: WIN Stadium
Date: Sunday April 17, 4:05pm
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Dragons: 1. Moses Mbye 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Jack Bird 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Josh Kerr 11. Tariq Sims 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Jack de Belin 14. Talatau Amone 15. Blake Lawrie 16. Josh Mcguire 17. George Burgess 18. Tautau Moga 19. Jackson Ford 20. Aaron Woods 21. Tyrell Sloan 22. Jack Gosiewski 23. Tyrell Fuimaono 24. Jayden Sullivan
The Dragons continue to persist with Moses Mbye at fullback and Jack Bird at five-eighth. George Burgess returns to the 17 while Josh McGuire has been named to return from suspension on the bench. Aaron Woods and Jackson Ford have been dropped. Tyrell Fuimaono returns from a suspension he picked up in the trials but has been named in the reserves.Embed from Getty Images
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Enari Tuala 6. Jake Clifford 7. Adam Clune 8. David Klemmer 9. Chris Randall 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Brodie Jones 13. Kurt Mann 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Leo Thompson 17. Sauaso Sue 18. Simi Sasagi 19. Pasami Saulo 20. Tex Hoy 21. Jack Johns 22. Jaron Purcell 23. Dylan Lucas 24. Brayden Musgrove
The Knights two changes to the side comes through injury with Edrick Lee named to make his long-awaited return with rookie winger Dominic Young sidelined with a knee injury. David Klemmer’s early return pushes Jacob Saifiti back to the bench which helps cover for the injury to Jirah Momoisea.
Referee: Ben Cummins
Plenty of the pre-match attention has been directed towards the Dragons performance in recent weeks. They did manage to avoid having 48 points put on them last round but fumbled their way to a very clunky performance and when South Sydney came fast down the middle, they looked ready to open up. The Knights start to the year has derailed slightly with three straight losses. They were disappointing last week against Manly being completely outclassed by their opponents and lacking in effort. They’ll be fired up to right last weeks wrongs against a team down on confidence.
Chris Randall holds this game on the back of his shoulders. There aren’t too many sides that buckle under middle-third pressure like the Dragons and if Chris Randall can increase his running game in this match, he’ll find plenty of space around the tired Dragons defenders. On the other side of the field is veteran Andrew McCullough who needs to look at generating more spark and speed. The Dragons play the ball speed is slow and by the time the ball gets out to the backline, the defence is already set, making the block plays look pedestrian. The Dragons need to rethink their strategy here and find ways to conserve energy in defence.
The return of a former Origin player has made the headlines – though it’s not David Klemmer. Since playing Origin at the end of season 2020, injuries have been cruel to Edrick Lee. But the hulking winger makes his return after 513-days of no NRL action. His teammates spoke glowingly of the effect he has on the team. It’s also a return for three former Dragons players with Tyson Frizell, Kurt Mann, and Adam Clune returning to their old home ground.
This special match – played on Easter Sunday – brings both teams together to play for the Alex McKinnon cup. This will be the eighth occasion both teams play for the cup with the honour being instituted in 2015. Of the seven matches already played out, Dragons have won six of these encounters including last year’s Easter Sunday showdown with a 22-13 victory.
Follow Nothing But Rugby League on Facebook