2023 NRL Preview Round 5: Dragons Vs Dolphins

Dylan Jhugroo previews the Round 5 clash between the St George Illawarra Dragons and The Dolphins.



St George Illawarra Dragons v The Dolphins
Venue: WIN Stadium
Date: Saturday April 1, 5:30pm


Dragons: 1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Jayden Sullivan 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Moses Mbye 10. Blake Lawrie 11. Ben Murdoch-Masila 12. Jaydn Su’a 13. Jack Bird 14. Jacob Liddle 15. Zane Musgrove 16. Toby Couchman 17. Josh Kerr 18. Michael Molo 19. Tautau Moga 20. Jaiyden Hunt 21. Talatau Amone 22. Jack de Belin

Dolphins: 1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2. Jamayne Isaako 3. Euan Aitken 4. Brenko Lee 5. Jack Bostock 6. Isaiya Katoa 7. Anthony Milford 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Herman Ese’ese 11. Kenny Bromwich 12. Connelly Lemuelu 13. Tom Gilbert 14. Jarrod Wallace 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Ray Stone 17. Mason Teague 18. Poasa Faamausili 19. Kurt Donoghoe 20. JJ Collins 21. Kodi Nikorima 22. Robert Jennings

Referee: Gerard Sutton

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Two sides coming off losses last week will look to bounce back on Saturday night in Wollongong, as Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins take on the last club he won a premiership with.

The Dragons were dismantled by Nicho Hynes last Sunday, losing the second half 28-0 after heading into the sheds only four points down. Anthony Griffin’s name had been in the media all week after the club controversially informed him, he’d have to re-apply for his job in 2024. It clearly didn’t do his side any favours, seeing them concede 11 line breaks, which was only one less than the Sharks had managed in the previous three games combined. It’s still early in the season, so it’s not quite panic stations yet for the joint-venture. But they simply cannot afford to miss 39 tackles in games and expect to have success this season. In some good news for the side, former origin forward Jack de Belin is a chance of returning, being named on the reserves list.

Switching focus, while the Dolphins are technically coming off a loss, it’s a very different story for the NRL’s newest club. Wayne Bennett’s men already went into last week’s Brisbane derby missing talisman Felise Kaufusi, dummy half Jeremy Marshall-King and gun half Isaiya Katoa. But they went on to lose hooker Kodi Nikorima in the 25th minute, and halfback Sean O’Sullivan in the 60th, as well as having winger Tesi Niu play on through a leg injury. Despite those massive setbacks, the Dolphins were in the contest right until the end at Suncorp, when Kotoni Staggs ran the length of the field to score the winning try in what is sure to become one of the more iconic moments of this rivalry moving forward. The Dolphins do welcome both Marshall-King and Katoa back into the squad, and journeyman forward Herman Ese’ese is set to make his club debut starting in the front row.

ROOKIE WATCH: Highly touted youngster Jack Bostock will make his NRL debut on the wing on Saturday, after showing impressive form in this year’s preseason challenge. Bostock has also impressed at representative level, scoring a try in last season’s under-19 state of origin match for NSW. What’s more, he’ll be making his debut at the very ground he played his junior footy at with the Illawarra Steelers.

KEY MATCHUP: Both the Dragons and Dolphins are sides on paper that lack the strike ability we see from the top teams in the NRL. To compensate for this, both have a heavy reliance on their fullbacks to provide some x-factor by sweeping across both sides of the attack. There’s no doubting that Tyrell Sloan and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow have that ability in spades. Look to both to provide some real attacking threat in this game.

UNDER PRESSURE: Dragons five-eigth Jayden Sullivan has had a relatively impressive start to the year in a side that has performed inconsistently at best. But with teammate Talatau Amone having been cleared to return to the NRL after an incident in the off-season, Sullivan doesn’t want to give Anthony Griffin any reasons to drop him. We know Griffin’s track record of rotation when results aren’t going his way, and Sullivan will undoubtedly have that in the back of his mind.


First meeting


Dolphins by 4 points.

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