Dragons v Dolphins preview

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St George Illawarra Dragons v Dolphins Sunday 2:00pm at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Carlton / Bidjigal

The first of Sunday's triple treat of NRL heads to Kogarah for a clash between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Dolphins with one side looking to bounce back from a loss before the bye and one looking to secure their position close to the NRL's top 4.

Sitting on the edge of the top 8, the St George Illawarra Dragons know that a win could push them back into the top 8. A much needed bye would have been the reset that the Saints needed after their poor performance in their 30-14 loss to an injury depleted Manly side.

The Saints have had a topsy-turvy season this year with impressive wins including ones of the Panthers and a big win over the Wests Tigers mixed in with some pretty average performances such as their big loss against the Dolphins in Round 2, the Anzac Day thrashing at the hands of the Roosters and their loss against Manly which have meant their for and against is substantially worse than teams also around the top 8.

The only change to the Dragons side from the loss against Manly is that Moses Suli returns to the side after he was ruled out during the warm-up after suffering a hamstring injury. The return of Suli to the centres sees Christian Tuipulotu back to the reserves. The Dragons may be further boosted with Jack Bird named in the reserves as he looks to return from a knee injury.

Just a few weeks ago the top spot was nearly within reach of the Dolphins but a slide in form has seen them fall down the ladder to sit fifth and without picking up positive result this week could see them slide towards the bottom of the top 8.

Despite winning just one of their past four games, the Dolphins haven't been out of any of their contests over recent weeks with their smallest losing margin being just the six points which came in their 30-24 loss to the Storm last week. The Dolphins have been well and truly in their contests and show they can match it with the top 4 especially with their 2-point win over the Sharks a fortnight ago.

The Dolphins are expecting the return of their Origin players with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow named at fullback and Felise Kaufusi named on the bench following Origin 2. A heavy concussion suffered in last week's loss sees Jack Bostock miss the match through the 11-day stand-down procedures with Tesi Niu coming into the side.

Last meeting: Round 2 2024 - Dolphins 38 Dragons 0

Who to watch: A lot of the success for the Dragons this season has depended on the performance of fullback Tyrell Sloan and again this is the game where the Red ‘V' will need him to stand up. The performances where the Saints have picked up important wins have seen Sloan star but he can go missing in the losses for the Dragons which will be a concern.

Isaiya Katoa had big wraps on him during his junior time at Penrith and very quickly he has established himself as one of the most impressive players in the NRL. The Dolphins youngster has a game management sense that only a few could wish for and will be important against one of the NRL's smartest players in Ben Hunt.

The favourite: Despite being away from home, the Phins are expected to win this contest.

My tip: The speed of the Dolphins feels like it's too much for the Dragons though back at Kogarah you never know what they are going to dish up. The visitors feel like they have too much X-Factor over the Dragons so I think they will get the win in a game that could be either tight or very one-sided. Dolphins by 6.

1. Tyrell Sloan 19. Christian Tuipulotu 3. Moses Suli 4. Max Feagai 5. Mathew Feagai 6. Kyle Flanagan 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Jack de Belin 11. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 12. Jaydn Su'A 13. Tom Eisenhuth 14. Blake Lawrie 15. Ben Murdoch-Masila 16. Toby Couchman 17. Luciano Leilua 20. Ryan Couchman

21. Trai Fuller 2. Jamayne Isaako 3. Jake Averillo 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Tesi Niu 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Isaiya Katoa 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 14. Felise Kaufusi 11. Connelly Lemuelu 12. Euan Aitken 13. Max Plath 14. Kenny Bromwich 15. Mark Nicholls 17. Tevita Pangai Junior 20. Kurt Donoghoe 18. Josh Kerr

Referees: Adam Gee; Sideline Officials: Wyatt Raymond, Daniel Schwass; Video Referees: Gerard Sutton;

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