Lachy MacCorquodale previews the Sunday afternoon clash between the St. George Illawarra Dragons and the Wests Tigers
St. George Illawarra Dragons Vs Wests Tigers
Venue: WIN Stadium
Date: Sunday May 1st, 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. George Burgess 11. Tariq Sims 12. Josh McGuire 13. Jack De Belin 14. Talatau Amone 15. Blake Lawire 17. Tyrell Fuimaono 18. Tautau Moga 19. Jackson Ford 20. Josh Kerr 21. Tyrell Sloan 22. Cody Ramsey 23. Jack Gosiewski 24. Jayden Sullivan
Jack Bird has been named at five-eighth despite concern over an arm injury. Josh McGuire slots into the back row for the injured Jaydn Su’A which sees Tyrell Fuimaono come onto the bench for his first game of the season.Embed from Getty Images
Tigers: 1. Starford To’a 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Luke Garner 4. Oliver Gildart 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Luke Brooks 7. Jackson Hastings 8. James Tamou 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Zane Musgrove 11. Kelma Tuilagi 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Joe Ofahengaue 14. Jock Madden 15. Alex Twal 16. Thomas Mikaele 17. Alex Seyfarth 18. Jake Simpkin 19. Tyrone Peachey 20. Junior Tupou 21. Tukimihia Simpkins 22. Austin Dias 23. Fonua Pole 24. Junior Pauga
Starford To’a starts at fullback for the injured Daine Laurie, allowing Oliver Gildart and Luke Garner to start in the centres. Kelma Tuilagi returns from illness and will start in the back row shifting Alex Seyfarth to the interchange bench.
Referee: Gerard Sutton
Who would’ve thought that when these two teams meet this weekend, that both sides would boast two-game winning streaks? Particularly after the abysmal start to the season by the Wests Tigers. They’ve now won two on the trot, both by a single point as they defeated the Parramatta Eels and the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Their two-game winning streak has coincided with the return of halfback Jackson Hastings who has touched the ball a combined 192 times over the past two weeks, more than any half in the game. He’s been able to give the Tigers some much needed direction around the park and as a result his side has played its best football of the season.
The Tigers discipline with the ball in hand has improved massively upon their first five games of the season. During those five games, the Tigers made an incredible 70 errors. Over the past two weeks, Michael Maguire’s side has made just 11 errors, a massive decrease. Yes, the Tigers have won both games by a sole point but this decline in errors has allowed the Tigers to stay in the game for the full 80, whereas previously, they were giving the ball to the opposition far to often to win games. Now, will they be able to remain disciplined like this for their clash against the Dragons? We’ll have to wait and see.
On the other hand, the Dragons are coming off a memorable victory on ANZAC Day, holding of a Sydney Roosters comeback to win by two points. It was their first victory on ANZAC Day since 2018 and winning like they did will no doubt give them confidence heading into the clash against the Tigers. As mentioned earlier, they too are on a two-game win streak (having beaten Newcastle in Round 6) and are hopefully turning their season around. Their main issue surrounded their defence, having conceded the fourth most points in the competition thus far (172). However, it’s their defence that has helped them most over the past two weeks as they’ve conceded just 28 points in their two victories.
Their man point of attack will come from halfback Ben Hunt, which will provide viewers with a great individual clash as he lines up against Hastings. The Dragons halfback has assisted three tries over the past two weeks and has kicked excellently in both games, highlighted by a 40/20 and 713 kick metres in Monday’s victory. This is a big clash for both clubs as they’ll view this as a game that they can win, and it’ll definitely help either team in their pursuit for a top eight spot.Embed from Getty Images
Interestingly, the two sides have won exactly 20 games against each other since the Tigers introduction in 2000, however, the Dragons have outscored the joint-venture 902 points to 788. The Tigers have recent history on their side, having won four straight and five of their last six against the Dragons.
The Dragons have a fantastic record at Wollongong having won 79 of the 130 matches they’ve hosted at the venue. They won here against the Newcastle Knights two weeks ago but have only won four of their past 11 matches at WIN Stadium and this form isn’t helped by the fact that historically, the Tigers perform well at this venue.
The Tigers have only ventured down to Wollongong on five occasions, winning four of them, with the most recent outing in 2021 which saw the Tigers knock-off the Dragons by eight points. In fact, the Tigers only loss at the venue came some 20 years ago when the Dragons defeated them 33-22 in Round 10 of the 2002 season.
Wests Tigers by 4.
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