TEAMS: NSWRL Sydney Shield - 2020 Round 5
17 hours ago | New South Wales Rugby League
Pressure easing on Mary's men as Pay exits
The St. George Illawarra Dragons and Canterbury Bulldogs play in a Saturday afternoon blockbuster.. of sorts. Both sides have generally struggled thus far in 2020, with the Dragons season record sitting at 3 wins and 6 losses. The Bulldogs are dead last on the ladder and have an even poorer record with just 1 win from 9 starts this season. The Dragons though, have won 3 of their past 5 games and the only two they've lost in those were against last year's grand finalists. This sees the pressure ease on coach Paul McGregor. The Bulldogs form though has this week seen former coach Dean Pay part ways with the club, effective immediately.
The Dragons would be completely unchanged in their line up coming into this game if it weren't for a second suspension in as many games for winger Jordan Pereira. An off the ball shoulder charge will see Pereira have his second two week stint on the sideline this season. He is replaced on the wing by talented 199cm winger Jason Saab, who looks to stamp more of a claim on the number 2 jersey than he previously did.
After last week's loss to fellow strugglers Brisbane Broncos, the Bulldogs have named a number of changes for this game. Nick Meaney finally gets a crack at his preferred fullback position, which moves Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to the wing. Reimis Smith is also making way for Kerrod Holland to start at centre. Brandon Wakeham loses out to Lachlan Lewis for the number 7 jersey in this one. Jeremy Marshall-King is back at starting hooker, which pushes Sioni Katoa back to the bench.
Last meeting: Round 4 2020 - Bulldogs 22 Dragons 2
Who to watch: Zac Lomax has been outstanding in recent weeks and is flourishing under a bit of stability as to where he is playing week-to-week. The young centre has been setting up and scoring tries and is proving to be a focal point of the Dragons' attack. Not to mention, his goal-kicking has been very good as well. Look for his footwork and ability to create to be a big part of the game as the Dragons look to pick apart the Bulldogs defence.
It will be great to see talented youngster Nick Meaney get a shot at his preferred position of fullback. Meaney possesses plenty of speed as well as a strong passing game and has looked dangerous when he has been able to get his hands on the ball this season. He should thrive in this role and it will be interesting to see if he can lock down that position for the rest of this season and possibly seasons to come.
The favourite: St George Illawarra are in form after a 34-4 defeat of Manly last round and are favourites to get the better of cellar dwellers Canterbury.
My tip: The Dragons haven't been terrific by any stretch despite racking up some recent wins. That being said, their improvement from their early season form is a large one. They will be looking to continue that improvement into this week as Ben Hunt and Cameron McInnes play their second full games in their new roles. Canterbury have already had a dramatic week with the departure of Dean Pay and it could potentially either inspire or deflate the team. Not to mention, Canterbury have had the better of the Dragons overall in more recent times which gives them some hope. The Dragons should be too good here though. Dragons by 14.
1. Matthew Dufty 2. Jason Saab 3. Euan Aitken 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Adam Clune 8. Blake Lawrie 9. Ben Hunt 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. Cameron McInnes 14. Trent Merrin 15. Josh Kerr 16. Tyrell Fuimaono 17. Jackson Ford
1. Nick Meaney 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Kerrod Holland 4. Marcelo Montoya 5. Christian Crichton 6. Kieran Foran 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Luke Thompson 14. Sione Katoa 15. Sauaso Sue 16. Renouf To'omaga 17. Ofahiki Ogden
Referees: Henry Perenara; Sideline Officials: Kasey Badger, Liam Kennedy; Video Referees: Bryan Norrie;