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Surprise Packets the Dragons Look to Continue Impressive Start Against Warriors
The St George Illawarra Dragons had their 4th and most impressive win of the season last week against the Eels, while the Warriors had arguably their most disappointing performance of the year against Manly.
One of the key aspects of the new and improved Dragons side this year has been the resilience in defence. New coach Anthony Griffin is renowned for the extremely high standards he sets at whichever club he is at, standards which were on display as the Dragons held the Parramatta attack to just 12 points, 6 of which came whilst Tariq Sims was in the sin bin.
The Warriors on the other hand, would be extremely disappointed with their performance against a Manly side who had experienced a horror start to the year. While it may have been close on the scoreboard, it was a dire affair devoid of pretty much any innovative attacking play close to the line and the Warriors will need to make a host of improvements if they are to penetrate the Dragons line enough to get the win.
The Warriors boast one of the biggest forward packs in the NRL, however the recent loss of Addin Fonua-Blake proved a costly one. Considering the Dragons were able to limit the effectiveness of Parramatta's big men, the Warriors will need some more from their playmakers if they want to be competitive.
In team news, the Dragons are 1-17 from the side that punished the Eels on Sunday night, with Ben Hunt hopeful of making a miracle return from a leg injury on ANZAC day against the Roosters next week. Kaide Ellis did enough in his first appearance of the year last week to retain a spot in the side.
For the Warriors, David Fusitu'a is facing a couple of weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring issue and is replaced by Hiku on the wing, however, don't be surprised to see Hiku swap to his preferred position of centre and Adam Pompey to the wing come Sunday afternoon. Eliesa Katoa has been left out of the side altogether and is replace by Josh Curran in the back row, while Bunty Afoa returns from a one game suspension and replaces Tom Ale on the bench.
Last meeting: Round 3 2020 - Warriors 18 Dragons 0
Who to watch: After suiting up for the Eels for the first six years of his career, Daniel Alvaro has been one of the more astute signings in the NRL in 2021 for the Dragons. Alvaro has been able to nail down a spot in the starting 17 so far this year, and last week, against his former club, he was impressive off the bench, making 15 runs for 126 metres (62 of them post contact), a tackle break, an offload as well as 38 tackles with only 2 of them missed, all in just 45 minutes. Alvaro will play another former club this week, having been loaned to the Warriors at the back end of last year.
The most consistent performer for the Warriors for a number of years now has been front rower Tohu Harris. Harris has recently re-signed with the New-Zealanders until the end of 2024, a move which at the moment appears to be a masterstroke. Last week he made 12 hit-ups for 112 metres as well as 2 tackle breaks, an offload and a whopping 48 tackles made, with Jazz Tevaga the only player making more. Harris has a big role to play for the Warriors over the next 10 or so weeks with the absence of Addin Fonua-Blake, although will receive some welcome assistance in the return of Bunty Afoa.
The favourite: The Dragons are favoured by 5 and a half points in this one.
My tip: The Warriors surprised me over the first few weeks of the season, however I can't tip them after their performance against a wooden spoon contender last week, especially considering the form of the Dragons. St George Illawarra by 14.
1. Matthew Dufty 2. Cody Ramsey 3. Jack Bird 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Adam Clune 15. Trent Merrin 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Josh Kerr 12. Tariq Sims 13. Tyrell Fuimaono 14. Kaide Ellis 16. Daniel Alvaro 17. Brayden Wiliame 20. Josh Mcguire 19. Billy Burns
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 4. Marcelo Montoya 2. Peta Hiku 3. Adam Pompey 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Sean O’Sullivan 21. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 9. Wayde Egan 16. Kane Evans 11. Josh Curran 14. Ben Murdoch-Masila 10. Tohu Harris 8. Leeson Ah Mau 13. Jazz Tevaga 15. Bunty Afoa 17. Paul Turner 12. Jack Murchie
Referees: Chris Sutton; Sideline Officials: Belinda Sharpe, David Munro; Video Referees: Ashley Klein;