Match Preview: Round 8
The St George Illawarra Dragons will host the Sydney Roosters in an anticipated ANZAC Day fixture at Allianz Stadium, Moore Park on Friday.
In what will already be a memorable day for both clubs, the Dragons lock Trent Merrin will make his 100th first-grade appearance at the age of 24.
After snapping a three game losing streak last Saturday night with a 20-10 victory over the New Zealand Warriors, the Dragons will be looking to bolster their resume, with a victory over a Roosters outfit that has failed to capture the form that saw them win a Premiership just six months ago.
The Roosters have only managed to win three of their first seven games so far this season, with the boys from Bondi probably being lucky to come away with the two points last weekend against the Cronulla Sharks.
Dragons Head Coach Steve Price has made a couple of changes to the side that took the field last weekend, with Joel Thompson returning to the second row, meaning Leeson Ah Mau will be dropped back to an extended five man bench.
Meanwhile, Dan Hunt has been promoted from the bench to the starting lineup, with Jack de Bellin forced to fight it out for one of the four interchange spots.
The Roosters have only made one personnel change to the side that defeated Cronulla 24-18 last weekend, with Daniel Tupou returning from a minor leg injury, allowing Shaun Kenny-Dowall to return to his preferred centre position, forcing Mitch Aubusson back to the bench.
The two clubs have met on 30 occasions, with the Big Red V claiming the points on 17 occasions to the Roosters 12, with one match ending in a draw.
While the Roosters won the ANZAC Day clash last year, the Dragons have played well against the tri colours in recent times, winning the annual clash three straight year in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Trent Merrin v Aiden Guerra
As if the occasion of playing in front of a huge crowd on ANZAC Day wasn’t enough to lift the Dragons back rower, his 100th appearance in the top grade certainly will.
Merrin has been Mr Consistency in 2014, running for at least 100 metres in every game, while completing at least 35 tackles in all bar one match.
Guerra on the other hand, had his best game of the season at Remondis Stadium last Saturday night.
The 26 year old was one of the best on ground against the Sharks, running for 106 metres, making a line break and chipping in with a handy 34 tackles.
Brett Morris v Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Coming up against one of the best young wingers in the competition, Morris will be keen to prove to Tuivasa-Sheck that he is still one of best in the competition at his position.
The Dragons number two has been averaging a line break a game so far this year, to go along with his five tries in seven appearances.
While he may not be the try scoring threat of Morris, RTS is always in the thick of the action.
Averaging just over 17 runs a game, the 20-year-old had his best game of the season last weekend, making 21 runs for 190 metres.
With the Australia v New Zealand test match just over a week away, Tuivasa-Sheck is a big chance of wrapping up the vacant Kiwi fullback jersey with a big outing on ANZAC Day.
Gareth Widdop v James Maloney
Widdop has been a huge part of the Dragons success so far this year, helping St George Illawarra to one of their best starts in a number of seasons.
While Widdop may not have scored a four pointer thus far, he alone is averaging just over seven points a game with the boot.
While Maloney did score a try in last weeks win over the Sharks, even he would admit that his form so far in 2014 has been down.
The Roosters five-eighth missed nine tackles last weekend, while averaging more than an error a game, compounding the tri-colours early season woes.
Date: Friday, April 25
Venue: Allianz Stadium
Gates Open: 1:00pm
First Grade: 4:00pm
Televised: Live on Fox Sports from 4pm