Cronulla Sharks v St George Illawarra Dragons
Southern Cross Group Stadium, Woolooware
The St George Illawarra Dragons came crashing back to earth following their 34-16 loss to the Parramatta Eels last Sunday afternoon in Wollongong.
Errors and ill-discipline proved the Dragons' kryptonite, which they cannot afford against their local rivals and reigning premiers.
The Sharks kick-started their title defence with a huge 42-16 win over premiership heavyweights Canberra down in the nation's capital in Round 2 of the NRL Telstra Premiership season.
The Dragons are unchanged from the 17 that took the field against the Eels last weekend. Although Jai Field (ribs) has been named in the reserves and could potentially make his return.
The Sharks too are unchanged but may be bolstered by the returns of Gerard Beale and Valentine Holmes who have been named in coach Shane Flanagan's reserves.
The Dragons and Sharks will play for the Monty Porter Cup this weekend. Porter played for both sides throughout his illustrious career, winning six premierships with the Red V before becoming the Sharks' inaugural captain in 1967.
Sharks: 1. Jack Bird, 2. Sosaia Feki, 3. Kurt Capewell, 4. Ricky Leutele, 5. Edrick Lee, 6. James Maloney, 7. Chad Townsend, 8. Andrew Fifita, 9. Jayden Brailey, 10. Matt Prior, 11. Luke Lewis, 12. Wade Graham, 13. Paul Gallen (c). Interchange: 14. Jayson Bukuya, 15. Chris Heighington, 16. Jeremy Latimore, 17. Joseph Paulo, 18.Tony Williams, 19. Valentine Holmes, 20. Fa'amanu Brown, 21. Gerard Beale.
Dragons: 1. Josh Dugan, 2. Nene Macdonald, 3. Euan Aitken, 4. Tim Lafai, 5. Jason Nightingale, 6. Gareth Widdop (c), 7. Josh McCrone, 8. Russell Packer, 9. Cameron McInnes, 10. Paul Vaughan, 11. Tyson Frizell, 12. Joel Thompson, 13. Jack de Belin. Interchange: 14. Tariq Sims, 15. Leeson Ah Mau, 16. Jacob Host, 17. Kurt Mann, 18. Jai Field, 19. Taane Milne, 20. Luciano Leilua, 21. Hame Sele.
Key Match-Up: Jack Bird v Josh Dugan – They may be good mates off the field but on Sunday they could be directly opposing one another. While Beale and Holmes are named in the Sharks' reserves, the Sharks would be hard-pressed denying Bird the No. 1 jumper following his performance against the Raiders. Dugan's running game, while crucial for the Dragons, offers an intriguing match-up considering Bird's playmaking prowess.
The History: Played 38; Dragons 19, Sharks 18, Draw 1. The Dragons have won four of their past six against the Sharks, including a resounding 32-18 win in Round 23 last year. However the last time these two clashed in the Shire, back in Round 2 last year, it was the reigning premiers who prevailed in a big way.
Match Officials: Referee: Ben Cummins. Assistant Referee: Adam Gee. Sideline Officials: Rickey MacFarlane and Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski.
Televised: Fox League – Live coverage from 6pm
Radio: ABC and Triple M