While the 2018 #NRL Pre-Season is still a few weeks away, there's a bunch of warm-up clashes happeni...
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One team saving face - the other still with running in their legs.
The Dragons will aim to continue their march to the finals with a trip to the Hunter to take on a Knights team that is eyeing the end of the season, and a chance to bring their new signings into the fray. The Saints are back on track after being on the right side of a points-fest in Wollongong last Sunday where they put 50+ on the Sea Eagles.
Newcastle conversely, look towards their holidays in September as they have a third wooden spoon almost certainly in safe keeping, but can play spoiler for teams like St George Illawarra - who they led for periods in the most recent contest between these sides back in Round 16, thanks to a Nathan Ross hat-trick. It all makes for an intriguing contest.
Last round the Saints' attack came alive on a sunny afternoon on the south coast with Gareth Widdop at the core once again, aided by an electrifying debut by junior Matt Dufty. The combination breathed new life into their season and a favourable draw has them in the box seat for the top eight - and given the condensed nature of the top eight, possibly even a top four spot.
Who to watch: Following an impressive debut where he finished the contest off with a four-pointer with two further assists, Matt Dufty has set himself a high benchmark especially as he has ousted Josh Dugan from the custodian role. His pace has slickened up a stodgy Dragons backline and if he can find some pockets of space this week it will spell trouble for the Knights.
The downfall of the Knights in their recent losses has been the kicking game - they can make metres through their backline and forwards but lack control through Brtock Lamb or the senior Trent Hodkinson which allows opponents a boost to their starts. If Hodkinson can turn around a large Saints pack it could allow them to slow the game down.
My tip: St George go into this huge favourites after raising the bat last weekend and against a Knights team with nothing to play for, could rack up a score. The Knights showed though back in Round 16 that they can pile on points to make this interesting. Dragons by 12.
1. Nathan Ross 2. Ken Sio 3. Dane Gagai 4. Peter Mata'utia 5. Shaun Kenny-dowall 6. Brock Lamb 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Jamie Buhrer 10. Josh King 11. Sione Mata'utia 12. Joe Wardle 13. Mitchell Barnett 14. Danny Levi 15. Luke Yates 16. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 21. Jacob Saifiti
1. Matthew Dufty 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Josh Dugan 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Josh McCrone 8. Leeson Ah Mau 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin 14. Tariq Sims 15. Jacob Host 16. Russell Packer 17. Kurt Mann