St George Illawarra v Canterbury preview

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St George Illawarra Dragons v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Sunday 4:05pm at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium

Canterbury-Bankstown travel to Netstrata Jubilee Stadium for the second time in three weeks, this time for a Sunday afternoon showdown with the St George Illawarra Dragons. 

The Dragons come into this clash on the back of three straight losses, the latest one making the Wests Tigers look like absolute world beaters. They haven't looked likely since beating Parramatta in Round 5, and being crowned April Premiers by the usual suspects in the microwave media.

The Bulldogs come into this fresh off a loss to Parramatta, where the Eels barely needed to break a sweat to win comfortably. So after finally winning a game two weeks ago, the Canterbury fans suddenly changing their tune to "we love Barrett", "trust the process", "the future is bright"... all it took was a loss in a game that they were always going to lose to bring it right back to "sack everyone", "no direction", "we're never going to win another game ever again". 

Everyone involved with both these teams need to discover a sense of perspective. Rome wasn't built in a day, these are two new coaches who need to rebuild their teams after years of failure and poor management.

OK I'll get off my high horse now.

In team news, Tyrell Fuimaono comes in for the Dragons to replace the injured Zac Lomax at centre. Poasa Faamausili has been named on the interchange. Cody Ramsey has been named and will be given every chance to play, however Mathew Feagai is waiting in the wings as a reserve to come in if needed.

For Canterbury, it's an unnecessary positional merry go round as Dallin Watene-Zelezniak - who is versatile and can play on the wing - moves to fullback, swapping with Nick Meaney, who plays his best football at fullback, and only at fullback. 

Lachlan Lewis has been named as one of the reserves, after a good performance in NSW Cup, which may keep the door open for some late changes.

These two teams have played 6 times since 2018, with St George Illawarra winning 4 of those games. The last time they met was in Round 10 2020, with the Dragons coming out 28-22 victors.

Last meeting: Round 10 2020 - Dragons 28 Bulldogs 22

Who to watch: For the Dragons, their fate rests on which Corey Norman shows up. Say what you want about him, but he is the current key to the Dragons and how they perform on any given day. He had a great time against Canterbury in 2020, and he may well be the difference again this week.

For the Bulldogs, two major factors (and key players) that were the difference in the game they won two weeks ago, and every single other game. The first being Kyle Flanagan's kicking game, and the second being Dylan Napa's performance in the forwards. Metres, hit ups, tackles. It's no coincidence that the Dogs won the one game where he aimed up and showed what he was capable of.

The favourite: St George Illawarra were comfortable favourites ($1.28 vs $3.75) at the time of writing.

My tip: This will be close. St George Illawarra will want to get themselves back into their early season form, the Bulldogs will want to solidify Nestrata Jubilee Stadium as their 2021 fortress. I honestly can't split them, so this Bulldogs fan will play the "reverse psychology" card and say St George Illawarra by 2.

1. Matthew Dufty 20. Mathew Feagai 3. Jack Bird 4. Tyrell Fuimaono 5. Max Feagai 6. Corey Norman 7. Ben Hunt 8. Blake Lawrie 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Josh Kerr 12. Tariq Sims 13. Josh Mcguire 15. Billy Burns 16. Daniel Alvaro 17. Kaide Ellis 19. Junior Amone 14. Jackson Ford

1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Nick Cotric 3. Will Hopoate 4. Corey Allan 5. Nick Meaney 6. Jake Averillo 7. Kyle Flanagan 16. Ava Seumanufagai 9. Sione Katoa 10. Luke Thompson 11. Adam Elliott 12. Chris Smith 13. Corey Waddell 14. Bradley Deitz 15. Renouf Atoni 19. Lachlan Lewis 23. Ofahiki Ogden 21. Matt Doorey

Referees: Ben Cummins; Sideline Officials: David Munro, Nick Beashel; Video Referees: Alan Shortall;

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