By Nathan Beuman
The St George Illawarra Dragons will celebrate their history when they host the South Sydney Rabbitohs for the Heritage Round at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday (7.30pm).
This year marks the 50 year anniversary of the 1965 Grand Final between the Dragons and their upcoming opposition, a game in which the Red V claimed their 12th Premiership, 12-8, at the same venue.
Despite having not won since Round 12, a win on Saturday night and results going their way could see the Dragons leap over the New Zealand Warriors and back into the top four.
Defence has been a major issue for the Dragons in their last five matches, giving up 22 points per game, a far cry from their competition best defence over the first three months of the season
The Rabbitohs themselves have been struggling over the last month, winning only one of their last three games, while scoring only 10.7 points per game over the stretch.
The visitors are one of the most disciplined teams with the football in the competition, allowing only 9.4 errors per game (fewest in the competition), compared to the Dragons 10.8 (eighth fewest).
Dragons fullback Josh Dugan is expected to make his return to the custodian's position this for the match, forcing Justin Hunt back to the wing, and Charly Runciman onto an extended seven man bench.
Dragons halfback Benji Marshall is also set to take to the field, meaning debutant Drew Hutchinson will be 18th man.
Finally, Joel Thompson and Tyson Frizell will respectfully take their places in the second-row together and as a result, Will Matthews and Jake Marketo move to the interchange bench alongside Mark Ioane.
Just like their opponents, the Rabbitohs get their fullback, Greg Inglis, back this week, meaning Alex Johnson moves back to the wing and Joel Reddy drops out of the 17.
Cameron McInnes, 21, will start at hooker for the suspended Isaac Luke, while Tim Grant will wear the #10 jersey in place of Dave Tyrrell, who shifts to the bench at the expense of Jason Clark.
The Dragons have won nine of their previous 15 encounteres against the Rabbitohs despite the latter having recent bragging rights.
The Rabbitohs have won their last three against the Dragons, including a narrow 16-10 victory at ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park in Round 9.
Precinct Activity – Heritage Display
Red V Members and supporters alike will be able to relive all the excitement from the match with a unique Heritage Display located within the Concourse of the Victor Trumper Stand between 6.00pm-8.30pm.
The dis play will hold various items relating to the 1965 Grand Final providing participants with information about the historic match and access to viewing unique pieces of memorabilia relating to the game.
Material will include quotes from 1965 Dragons and Rabbitohs representatives reminiscing on the fixture as well as images, newspaper articles and the game day Match Program.
Furthermore, there will also be displayed a 1965 Dragons signed team jersey, 1965 autographed team photo, 1965 split Dragons and Rabbitohs team jersey as well as the J.J Giltinan Shield!
Heritage Round Jersey Purchasing Information
The Dragons commemorative Heritage Round Jersey celebrating the 1965 Grand Final is available for sale in Adults sizes both at the Dragons Merchandise Store in Kogarah and Online.
The Dragons Heritage Round Jersey will also be available for sale in Adults sizes along will a full range of ISC and Supporter Gear at the Dragons Merchandise Van, located in the precinct area near Gate E at the SCG from 6.00pm.
Heritage Round Jersey Player Jersey Auction
The Dragons are offering all Red V Members and supporters the chance to bid on their favourite Heritage Round player-worn jersey!
All proceeds will go to the Club and each player-worn Dragons Heritage Round jersey will additionally be signed by that individual player!
The auction will commence on Thursday, July 16 at 5.00pm so make your bid now via the Club website!
Men Of League
For every fan that attends a match during the Men of league Heritage round, the NRL will donate $1.00 from every ticket to support both the NRL Foundation and the RiseForAlex Fund.
The NRL Foundation has been established to provide immediate and continuing financial and emotional support to rugby league players at all levels of the game who suffer a catastrophic or potentially catastrophic spinal injury.
The Foundation have partnered with Spinal Cord Injuries Australia who, in conjunction with the NRL, support players and their families at all levels of the game impacted by a catastrophic spinal cord injury.
The RiseForAlex Fund was established to provide assistance to Alex McKinnon, a Newcastle Knights professional Rugby League footballer, who suffered a devastating spinal injury in a rugby league tackle in March 2014.
The NRL has provided and continue to provide support to Alex in his rehabilitation journey.