Match Preview: Round 19
The St George Illawarra Dragons will look to continue their great form when they host the table-topping Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah on Monday.
The match is a particularly important one for St George Illawarra, with former player Alex McKinnon, who spent four years with the club, being recognised throughout the round's matches, with a $1 from every ticket sold going towards the RiseForAlex Fund.
Returning from a bye, the Dragons will seek to maintain the brand of football that saw them win three straight before the break, as they sit right on the cusp of a spot in the top eight.
However, their opposition this coming Monday night certainly won’t be easy, with Manly currently sitting atop the competition table, as they themselves will aim to work towards make it back-to-back Grand Final appearances.
Dragons Head Coach Paul McGregor has decided to stick with the team that has had a lot of success over the last month, making only once change from the side that defeated the North Queensland Cowboys a fortnight ago, with Josh Dugan returning from the Blues Origin camp to take the place of Peter Mata’utai.
Meanwhile, Manly Head Coach Geoff Toovey has been forced to make a number of changes to the side that demolished the Wests Tigers 40-8 at Brookvale Oval last Friday night, with Jorge Taufua returning to the starting lineup following an ankle injury, forcing Clint Gutherson back to the NSW Cup.
Anthony Watmough will also return from suspension, after being rubbed out for four weeks for a dangerous throw during Game Two of Origin, while Justin Horo will be forced to watch from the sideline after he himself was suspended for three weeks for dangerous contact.
Finally, Tom Symonds has been given the nod at lock ahead of Dunamis Lui, who has dropped back to the bench for the all important matchup.
Monday nights game should be a pearler, with both sides coming into the game red hot.
The Dragons have won four of their last five, including three straight, scoring an average of 23.3 points over the last month, while conceding only 18 points per game.
Manly have also managed to string together a good run of late, winning four of their last five too, whilst scoring an average of 27.6 points per game and allowing only 11.4 ppg.
Head to Head
The Sea Eagles may have won the last two meetings between the two sides, but the Dragons have won four of the last six, including three of four at Jubilee Oval.
Overall, the story has been much the same, with St George Illawarra having the wood over Manly since the merger, collecting the points on 14 of the 21 occasions the sides have met.