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Dragons v Knights preview - 2017 Round 16
Out of form high-flyers host in-form cellar dwellers.
It all started out glorious for the Dragons, they were flying high at the top of the table after a few lean years - it has all crashed down with back to back losses to the Bulldogs and Eels which has old demons resurfacing for Paul McGregor and his red and white side.
Sunday will be a test for a under-fire Dragons side that has scored two and 14 in the last two weeks where halves Gareth Widdop and Josh McCrone have looked lost with ball in hand as the forward pack which dominated the first two months of the season has been matched in their last few performances.
Thankfully they have home comforts in Kogarah and the 16th placed Newcastle Knights to try and turn around their fortunes but this Newcastle side has proven already this season they aren't a pushover despite their meager two wins this season.
The Knights had a week off after their narrow loss to Manly Sea Eagles in downpour conditions at Brookvale but their achilles heel this season is drifting in and out of games - a young side that can compete for 60 minutes of the game but seem to lose steam in the final twenty where teams can get them. Coming from his stellar performance on the wing for his state - Dane Gagai will need to spark the Knights if they are to spook a Dragons side that is already chasing it's shadow.
Last meeting: Round 26 2016 - Dragons 28 Knights 26
Who to watch: Paul Vaughan is the compass for the Dragons forward pack especially missing Jack De Belin to suspension this weekend. The former Raiders prop who re-signed recently gets the Dragons moving with his push through the tackle and quick play the balls to lay the platform for Widdop and McCrone to push the ball across the park and bring Josh Dugan and Jason Nightingale into the contest.
The Knights need to come up with points against a beleaguered Dragons side and that will start from the back with Queensland representative Dane Gagai returned to club land after his two tries for the Maroons on Wednesday - if he can repeat that feat this weekend they could pull the upset against a team once considered premiership favourites.
The favourite: The Dragons are well backed despite back-to-back losses.
My tip: It would have to be the Dragons. The Knights have lost four straight at Kogarah Jubilee and sit rock bottom of the ladder so it is the ideal opportunity for the Dragons to bounce back with a strong performance to quell the doubters. Dragons by 14.
1. Josh Dugan 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Kurt Mann 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Josh McCrone 8. Russell Packer 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 19. Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 11. Tariq Sims 14. Jacob Host 15. Leeson Ah Mau 16. Hame Sele 17. Taane Milne
1. Dane Gagai 2. Ken Sio 3. Brendan Elliott 4. Peter Mata'utia 5. Nathan Ross 6. Brock Lamb 7. Jaelen Feeney 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Danny Levi 15. Josh King 11. Sione Mata'utia 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Mitchell Barnett 14. Luke Yates 16. Tyler Randell 17. Jacob Saifiti 18. Sam Mataora
Referees: Adam Gee, Gavin Reynolds; Sideline Officials: Jason Walsh, Clayton Sharpe; Video Referees: Ashley Klein, Ben Galea;