Dragons v Raiders preview

NRL TelstraPremiership GRAD
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St George Illawarra Dragons v Canberra Raiders Sunday 2:00pm at Glen Willow Regional Sports Stadium

It's crazy how quickly a week changes thing in Rugby league.

Two weeks ago, St George were the toast of the town after they dismantled Melbourne - this week they are chastened after a tough loss to South Sydney where the forward pack were dominated by the Burgii.

Dragons fans might have a slight feeling of dread that is creeping down their neck, but this is not your father's Saints side. They are powerful, composed and thrilling. Against the lower sides of the table, they have put on some points and after a down week from both Gareth Widdop and Ben Hunt - the two halves will be ready for action.

Over the other side of the field - it has been a season to forget already for Canberra. Ricky Stuart must be ripping what is left of his hair out. They have lost three of their games by less than six and last week imploded against a ragtag Sharks side so the moral must be at rock bottom - so maybe getting away into the country might help the Raiders. 

There is talent across the park for the Raiders, it is harnessing it that has been the problem. Putting more than a half of football together is needed against the competition leaders - the Dragons won't allow them room for errors so Aiden Sezer and Blake Austin need to find some chinks in the Saints armour if they are to cause a major upset this weekend. 

Last meeting: Round 19 2017 - Raiders 18 Dragons 14

Who to watch: It is easy to say the Dragons halves have to improve after a silent afternoon against Souths, but in a formidable Saints side, they have one weak link. Club legend Jason Nightingale has served them with such distinction but in both losses - to Warriors and Rabbitohs they have targeted the Kiwi representative. The Raiders have the reigning rookie of the year on one wing and Rapana on the other, so if the rush in technique from Nightingale doesn't stick, it might be loss number three. 

For the Raiders it is simple. They need to compete for the whole 80 minutes. The best way for them to do so, is for their halfback to control the game - the Dragons have a massive forward pack and if Aiden Sezer can find space and turn them around often, it may allow them space for their explosive backline to create some problems. 

The favourite: Despite a patchy few weeks, the Red V have the favour of the punters.

My tip: Well it is clearly the Dragons. They are riding high at the top of the league despite their loss and the Raiders had their heart ripped out again last week. Dragons by 16.

1. Matthew Dufty 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Euan Aitken 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Ben Hunt 8. James Graham 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. Jack de Belin 14. Jeremy Latimore 15. Kurt Mann 16. Leeson Ah Mau 17. Blake Lawrie

1. Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Blake Austin 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Iosia Soliola 9. Siliva Havili 16. Charlie Gubb 11. Joseph Tapine 12. Elliot Whitehead 13. Josh Papalii 10. Shannon Boyd 14. Ata Hingano 15. Luke Bateman 17. Dunamis Lui

Referees: Ashley Klein, Peter Gough; Sideline Officials: Rickey McFarlane, Clayton Sharpe; Video Referees: Jared Maxwell, Ben Galea;

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