Canterbury v St George Illawarra preview

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Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v St George Illawarra Dragons Monday 4:00pm at Stadium Australia

The Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs return home to Stadium Australia for the first time since Round 8, for their now-traditional Queens Birthday meeting with the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Canterbury are coming into this after a hard fought two points earned from the bye... oh yes, and the five straight losses before that, the most recent being a 30-4 loss to Penrith in which the 'Dogs got strangely positive reviews for a heavy loss. This should tell you how low the bar has been set.

The Red V are coming in off the back of a huge 52-24 win over the Brisbane Broncos, which snapped a three-game losing streak. 

In team news, well - both teams don't have to worry much about State of Origin wreaking havoc on their lineups.

Canterbury's Jeremy Marshall King returns from injury to reclaim the Number 9 jersey. The other dummy half option Sione Katoa also returns - from suspension - and takes Brad Deitz' spot on the bench.

Chris Smith's suspension has been completed, however coach Trent Barrett has not seen it fit to name him, while Deitz (injured) and Jackson Topine (baffling omission) have come out of the side. Then there's the mystery of key off-season signing, halfback Kyle Flanagan. Not named in the NRL starting side, not named in NSW Cup again, and not on the injury list. I'll just leave it at that.

The Saints have named the exact same 17 as last week. For this Bulldogs fan, this is an extremely foreign concept, and I am supremely envious!

NSW utility Tariq Sims has been named on the extended bench, and should come into the 17 if he survives Origin. Poasa Faamausili will need to clear concussion protocols to take his spot on the bench.

Last time they met - just five rounds ago at Kogarah - saw an easy 32-12 victory for the Dragons. And if we're honest,  where they very easily could have run in 50-plus.

It was also (seemingly) the beginning of the end for Kyle Flanagan, hooked by Barrett before half time, and not seen in Bulldogs (or Mounties) colours since.

St George Illawarra have now won 4 of the last 5 clashes between these two sides.

Last meeting: Round 9 2021 - Dragons 32 Bulldogs 12

Who to watch: I'll be watching to see what the Dragons' backline is going to do to the Bulldogs' out of form, slow, and out of position fullbacks, wingers and centres. I'm expecting Mikaele Ravalawa and Matt Dufty in particular to have an absolute field day.

Canterbury's team selection is not rewarding form, or punishing a lack of it. All we have is Luke Thompson being the shining light in an otherwise depressing season. He is brilliant - and will lead from the front again.

The favourite: At the time of writing, the Dragons are $1.20 favourites.

My tip: The Dragons should win this rather comfortably. St George Illawarra by 20.

21. Tuipulotu Katoa 2. Nick Cotric 3. Will Hopoate 4. Aaron Schoupp 5. Nick Meaney 6. Brandon Wakeham 7. Jake Averillo 8. Jack Hetherington 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Luke Thompson 11. Adam Elliott 12. Matt Doorey 13. Josh Jackson 14. Sione Katoa 15. Dylan Napa 16. Ava Seumanufagai 20. Corey Waddell 19. Kyle Flanagan

1. Matthew Dufty 2. Cody Ramsey 3. Brayden Wiliame 4. Gerard Beale 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Ben Hunt 8. Blake Lawrie 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Paul Vaughan 20. Tariq Sims 12. Jack Bird 13. Jackson Ford 11. Josh Kerr 14. Talatau Amone 16. Daniel Alvaro 17. Jack de Belin 15. Poasa Faamausili

Referees: Gerard Sutton; Sideline Officials: Phil Henderson, Todd Smith; Video Referees: Ashley Klein;

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