Match Preview: Round 12
The St George Illawarra Dragons will be looking to impress under new Head Coach Paul McGregor against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park on Monday.
With a week that the club will certainly be looking to move on from, first year Head Coach Paul McGregor will have the task of trying to get his men focused and prepared to take on a Rabbitohs lineup that have won three out of their last four games.
McGregor has made a number of changes to the lineup that went down to the Parramatta Eels a fortnight ago at Parramatta Stadium, with Jason Nightingale being named on the wing despite failing a fitness test two weeks ago.
Peter Mata’utia moved to the centres, with Joel Thompson making his way into the second row to replace Ben Creagh, who shifts to prop.
Origin stars Brett Morris and Trent Merrin have both been named in the side, but will undergo fitness tests prior to Mondays clash.
Meanwhile, Souths coach Michael Maguire has named a near full strength lineup, with Queensland Origin players Greg Inglis and Ben Te’o slotting straight into the starting lineup, while Chris McQueen will likely start from the bench.
Baring any injuries to come out of Wednesday nights game, Nathan Merrit, Ben Lowe and Joe Picker will be the ones forced out of the 17.
Despite a disrupted preparation due to his involvement in the Blues Origin win on Wednesday night, McGregor will look to quickly rectify St George Illawarra’s lackluster attack of late, with the best attacking side at the start of the season only managing a combined 20 points over the last three weeks of football.
With a full two weeks to prepare and get comfortable in the Dragons system, exciting playmaker Benji Marshall should certainly look more at home.
Both he and five-eighth Gareth Widdop will need to work together if they are going to break one of the best defensive side in the competition.
It’s not just the Dragons attack that needs work though, with the joint venture allowing an average of 36 points over the last three weeks, being outscored 108-20 over that period.
The last meeting between the two sides took place in round 5 this year, with Souths coming away with a 26-6 victory at the SCG.
Benji Marshall v Adam Reynolds
By Benji’s own admission, his own performance in his return game to the NRL a fortnight ago wasn’t what he would have liked, with the halfback making five errors over 80 minutes of football.
With two more weeks of training in his legs, he will certainly look to contribute more to the sides attack than he did against Parramatta two weeks ago.
While Souths have won three of their last four games, Reynolds probably hasn’t been at his best, allowing three missed tackles on Monday nights 18-0 win at Remondis Stadium, Cronulla.
However, the little number seven will certainly lift for the big clash against St George Illawarra, as he looks to push for an Origin 2 call-up.
Ben Creagh v George Burgess
Having played much of his career in the second row, Creagh will be out to prove to McGregor and the Dragons supporters that he can play up front as well.
The 29-year-old has been one of the best Dragons this season, having already scored three tries so far this year, average of just over 25 tackles a game.
Meanwhile, George Burgess was one of the best on ground last weekend against Cronulla, with the Englishman racking up 189 metres on 15 hit-ups to go along with 27 tackles.
While he may not have the profile of older brother Sam, his tireless work certainly doesn’t go unnoticed by Michael McGuire or the Souths faithful.