Match Preview: Round 14
The St George Illawarra Dragons will look to make it back-to-back wins on when they take on the top of the table Penrith Panthers at Sportingbet Stadium, Penrith on Saturday (5:30pm kick-off).
After breaking a four game losing streak with a 30-0 win over the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks last weekend, Head Coach Paul McGregor will hope his side can take that confidence on the road, as they try and end the Panthers own five game winning run.
The Dragons will have a little bit of extra motivation to come away with the two points, when they come up against their former five-eighth Jamie Soward for the first time since he left to play in the English Super League half way through last season.
McGregor has been forced to make a couple of changes to the side that took the park last weekend due to State of Origin commitments, with the 20-year-old Charly Runicman coming in to the centres for Josh Dugan.
Mitch Rein returns from a one game suspension, forcing Craig Garvey back onto a five-man bench, where he will have to fight it out with Shane Pumipi for the back up hooker role.
Bronson Harrison makes his way onto the bench, taking the place of Trent Merrin.
Meanwhile, Panthers Head Coach Ivan Clearly has also been forced to make a couple of changes to his side that thrashed the Gold Coast Titans 36-14 last Saturday night, with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak coming onto the wing to replace David Simmons, who has been ruled out for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.
Local Shellharbour junior Adam Docker has also been ruled out after failing a concussion test, giving Tyrone Peachey an opportunity to start, with Bryce Cartwright coming on to the bench in jumper #17.
Season to Date
While the Dragons were able to score 30 points last weekend against Cronulla, McGregor would be very impressed with his sides defence play, holding the Sharks to nil.
Prior to last weekends game, the Dragons had been allowing an alarming average of 23.8 points per game, third most in the competition.
However, the test will be far greater for St George Illawarra this Saturday night in front of a hostel Panthers crowd.
The Dragons go from playing a team with the second worst defensive record in the competition (24.2 ppg), to the second stingiest defence in the Panthers (15.8 ppg).
If St George Illawarra are going to come away with the two points on Saturday night, they are going to have to break a three-game losing streak against the Panthers.
Even more concerning for the Dragons is their inability to score tries against the mountain men, having failed to pass 12 points in four of their last five meetings against Penrith.