Preview: Round 24 v Penrith Panthers
The St George Illawarra Dragons will host the Penrith Panthers at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Thursday (7.35pm).
The Dragons return to play their final home game of the season at the venue and will be looking to return to winning ways after their 32-6 loss to the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane last round.
The Red-and-Whites presently sit eighth on the competition table on equal points with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.
The Panthers are every likelihood to not be playing Finals Football in September but will arrive at the venue having vanquished a five-game losing streak following their comprehensive win over the New Zealand Warriors last round.
Dragons Head Coach Paul McGregor has named an 18-man extended squad for the home fixture and is expected to welcome back halfback Benji Marshall following his battle with a minor hamstring strain.
Dragons utility Dylan Farrell has overcome a back problem to be named on the wing whilst fellow utility Jake Marketo (hamstring) has been named on the bench.
Panthers Head Coach Ivan Cleary will be without the services of veteran Nigel Plum for the encounter following the player’s immediate retirement.
However, the gaffer will be bolstered by Tyrone Peachey’s expected return to the forward-pack allowing Isaac John to shift back into the five-eighth role for the injured Peter Wallace.
The Dragons will have to overcome recent history if they are to beat their upcoming opposition, having not defeated the Panthers at the venue since 2011.
The Panthers have defeated their hosts in six of their seven previous encounters but the Red-and-Whites have overcome their opponents on 16 occasions since 1999.