Preview: Round 12 v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
By Nathan Beuman
The St George Illawarra Dragons return to action when they host rivals the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in the local derby at Jubilee oval, Kogarah on Sunday (4.00pm).
Both teams will be competig for the Monty Porter Cup which is contested each time the both clubs meet, paying tribute to the achievements of a player with strong associations to both clubs.
Porter was a second-rower who played 113 first-grade games for the Red V during his eight seasons with the Dragons (1958-65), winning six Premierships during that time (1958-60; 1962-64).
The second-rower left the Dragons in 1965 and went on to become the inaugural captain of the Sharks upon their inclusion into the NSWRL in 1967.
The Dragons will be looking to make it three straight wins over the Sharks, with the two competition points potentially sending them to the top of the competition table.
The Dragons continue to be the defensive benchmark of the competition, allowing just 120 points in their 10 matches to date, 12 points better than anyone else in the NRL.
The Dragons will be boosted by the news that NSW Blues representative duo Trent Merrin and Josh Dugan are both expected to back-up for the all important local derby.
The Sharks have bounced back from recent losses, knocking off the Gold Coast Titans 23-22 in golden point at Cbus Super Stadium, Robina prior to the bye..
With their only NSW Blues representative Andrew Fifita expected to take the field at Jubilee Oval, the Sharks will head into Sunday afternoon’s match well rested following last week’s bye.
With both sides ranking in the bottom four of points scored this season, it is expected to be a largely defensive battle with tries to be at a premium.
Both Head Coaches Paul McGregor and Shane Flanagan have named relatively unchanged line-ups from their Round 10 clashes, with the only difference being Jake Marketo (Dragons) and Tinirau Arona (Sharks being added to an extended five-man interchange bench.
The overall history between the two clubs is incredibly tight, with the Dragons taking 17 of their most recent 34 games, with one game ending in a draw.
Jubilee Oval on the other hand has been a nightmare for the Sharks, with the team winning just two from seven.
Gates Open: 1:30pm
The Dragons are encouraging all Members and fans to wear “Red” for a Red V Red Out at Jubilee Oval on Sunday and will have “Get Red-y” stations equipped with face painting, airbrush tattoo artists and merchandise to assist our fans to get “Red-y” with prizes on offer for the best dressed.