The Roosters headed to Newcastle last week as the dominant favourites and after only two minutes, justified their price with a try to Anthony Minichiello however, it was almost 70 minutes later before they were able to register their second.
That try had them in front 12 – 10 with ten minutes to play but a four-pointer to the home side with two minutes on the clock, handed the Roosters an unexpected 16 – 12 loss. A win over Newcastle would have seen the Roosters in second spot on the ladder but instead, they are now sixth, equal on points with Melbourne and only one win in front of six other teams. Adding to the loss was the injury to Sonny Bill Williams who, along with Mitch Aubusson, will miss this match.
On a brighter note, the Roosters have named Michael Jennings in the centres with Aidan Guerra returning to the forwards. Jennings hasn’t played since the Origin series and will give the Roosters some needed spark in the back-line. The Roosters enjoyed a favourable draw during the Origin period and were able to strong several good wins together however, they have lost three of their last four matches and are struggling to find the form that saw them claim last year’s premiership.
Dragons five-eight Benji Marshall faced his old side the West Tigers in last week’s match and at full time, had bragging rights with his side’s 28 -18 win. It was Marshall’s halves partner tough Gareth Widdop that orchestrated the victory and he and Marshall are steadily building a formidable combination. The win was the Dragons’ fourth in the past five weeks with their only defeat coming at the hands of the competition leaders, Manly. After a poor start to the season, the Dragons have turned things around and are now sitting on 22 competition points, and still a shot of making the finals. The Dragons will go with the same seventeen as last week’s squad, which is now an established side posting results.
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HEAD TO HEAD
The Roosters have won their last four games against the Dragons, including the Anzac Day match this year, all by 13+ margins however, the Roosters aren’t in the same mode at the present time as they have been during these matches and the Dragons will offer stiff competition and attract attention with the start.
Anthony Minichiello (c), Nene Macdonald, Michael Jennings, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Sam Moa, Boyd Cordner, Aidan Guerra, Frank-Paul Nu’uausala. Interchange: Heath L’Estrange, Isaac Liu, Dylan Napa, Remi Casty, Vincent Leuluai
Ins: Michael Jennings, Heath L’Estrange, Vincent Leuluai. Outs: Sonny Bill Williams (broken thumb, round 24), Mitchell Aubusson (ankle, round 23)
St George Illawarra Dragons:
Adam Quinlan, Brett Morris, Josh Dugan, Gerard Beale, Jason Nightingale, Gareth Widdop, Benji Marshall, Ben Creagh, Mitch Rein, Michael Cooper, Leeson Ah Mau, Joel Thompson, Jack de Belin. Interchange: Bronson Harrison, Trent Merrin, Will Matthews, Jack Stockwell, Shane Pumipi
Ins: Shane Pumipi. Outs: None