Preview: Elimination Final v Canterbury-Bansktown Bulldogs
By Nathan Beuman
The St George Illawarra Dragons will compete against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in their Elimination Final knock-out fixture at ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park on Saturday (5.50pm).
Following a trilling 32-30 golden-point victory over the Wests Tigers last round to qualify, the Dragons head into this must win game with confidence, hoping to upset a Bulldogs side on a five game winning streak.
The Dragons attack has been on point over the last month and a half, averaging 27.5 points per game in their last six matches.
If the Dragons are going to advance past this round, they are going to have to be on top of their game defensively, as the Bulldogs have the second most line breaks in the competition (109), compared to the Dragons, who have the fewest (72).
The Bulldogs have been the form team heading into the Finals series, averaging 26.7 points per game over their six game winning streak, earning themselves a home quarter-final.
The winner of the match will progress through to play the loser in the Sydney Roosters v Melbourne Storm game, while the other will be eliminated from this year’s Finals Series.
"It's been a rather relaxed training environment this week as we prepare for the game against the Bulldogs," said Rein.
"We trained hard in shorter-styled sessions which allowed us to pick-up the intensity and we're all buzzing around the joint and looking forward to the game.
"We know they have threats all over the park as well as their large forward-pack so we will need to stop their go forward which they are known for."
Dragons Head Coach Paul McGregor has opted to go with the same 17-man squad that took on the Tigers last round, with the only difference being the inclusion of Mark Ioane, Craig Garvey and Justin Hunt to an extended seven-man bench.
As mentioned, Bulldogs Head Coach Des Hasler has the benefit of welcoming back Josh Morris this weekend, with the former Kiama Knights junior being named at fullback, forcing Sam Perrett to the wing.
The only other change is a positional one, with Aiden Tolman set to start in the front row, while Sam Kasiano reverts back to the bench.
The Bulldogs hold a considerable overall advantage against the Dragons, winning 18 of their 29 games played in recent times.
These two sides have already met twice at ANZ Stadium this season, with the series being locked at one a piece.
The Dragons defeated their opponents 31-6 in the opening encounter back in Round 6 before suffering a 29-16 loss in Round 13.