25 rounds, 192 games, #Origin on a Sunday, and a September Grand Final.
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Round 18 of the Telstra Premiership sees Saints travel to Parramatta for a highly anticipated match against the highly fancied Eels. Following a dismal display preceding the bye where Saints were out-thought and out-classed by the talented young Tigers, St George Illawarra missed a golden opportunity to move into the Top 4 and finds itself tittering on the inner edge of the Top 8 with a perceived tough draw ahead.
For many Saints fans, this game has been 13 months in the waiting as it represents the first time former fan favourite Mark Riddell meets his former club and the Dragon Army amongst others will be sure to let their feelings known towards the cheeseburguling traitor.
For the side itself, this is a critical fixture. Barrett (injury) and Timmins (suspension) return to first grade and provided the Origin quartet (Cooper, Gasnier, Bailey and Ryles) recover in time from what is likely to be a bruising State of Origin encounter in Brisbane on Wednesday night, Saints should be close to full strength with the exception of Mathew Head and Ben Hornby. A full house should be on hand at Parramatta Stadium for this encounter.
GETTING THERE AND AWAY: Parramatta Stadium is located on O?Connell Street in Parramatta. Full information on the stadium can be found at www.parramattastadium.com.au and for those who are driving, www.whereis.com is recommended. A map of the area can be found at: http://www.whereis.com/whereis/mapping/renderMapAddress.do?name=&streetNumber=&street=O'Connell%20Street&streetType=&suburb=Parramatta&state=New%20South%20Wales&latitude=-33.807404&longitude=151.001968&navId=$01002077P2GIR$&brandId=1&advertiserId=&requiredZoomLevel=1
For those travelling out by train, the nearest station is Parramatta but it is a 10-15 minute walk to the ground from the station. Full City Rail information can be found at: www.cityrail.info
TICKET PRICES & WHERE ARE THE ARMY SITTING: The Army will be sitting in the North-Western GA area in bays 54, 55 and 56. Entry for this area is through Gate C at the Leagues Club end of the ground. It is imperative that Saints? fans get out in numbers and support the team as they head down the road towards September. So wear your red and white proud, get out there with your flags and banners and fire our lads up. (Note: Parramatta Stadium has restrictions on banners and flag sizes?. Big flags are prohibited whilst banners the size of the GST sign or smaller (130cm by 110cm) are permitted. If in doubt, bring your banner and if it doesn?t get it, you can always get it back at the end of the game.)
It is recommended that tickets be purchased in advance or very early on Friday to avoid delays at gates or disappointment. Tickets can be purchased at Ticketek through: http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=EELS05&searchId=430b16a1-ea56-43b3-851e-ff3c39b6096e or on the phone on (02) 92664800 or at any Ticketek outlet. The away season ticket holder discount is available for $8 at the gate but if you are a university or TAFE student, tickets are also $8 when purchased in advance.
BEST PUBS: Parramatta Leagues Club is the logical choice as it is close to the Northern end of the ground. (http://www.parraleagues.com.au/) There are a few other good spots in Parramatta to go out before or after the game. One World Sport at 295 Church Street is very popular. (http://www.oneworldsport.com.au/home.asp) PJ Gallaghers at 74 Church Street is also a recommended venue. http://www.pjgallaghers.com.au/
Thanks to Steve Kehlet for compiling this weeks Dragon Army information.