NRL Preview: Round 4 v Cronulla Sharks
St George Illawarra Dragons v New Zealand Warriors
UOW Jubilee Oval, Kogarah
The St George Illawarra Dragons returned to form in their 16-10 local derby win over the reigning premiers Cronulla Sharks in Round 3 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
In the grand scheme, the Dragons kept it simple by sticking to their well-documented power game which left the Sharks reeling.
More importantly it led to a further two competition points as the Red V jumped to third on the competition ladder.
The Dragons' upcoming opponents the Warriors haven't had the happiest of starts to 2017 after only recording one win in three games, falling to the Bulldogs last Friday night in Dunedin.
However they have been boosted by the return of skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and the potential debut of star recruit Kieran Foran. Ligi Sao has also been named to return from injury in the reserves.
The Dragons remain unchanged, though the hotly-contested battle for the No. 17 jumper remains between Kurt Mann and Jai Field.
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.
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), 2. Tuimoala Lolohea, 3. David Fusitu'a, 4. Solomone Kata, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Ata Hingano, 7. Shaun Johnson, 8. Albert Vete, 9. Issac Luke, 10. Jacob Lillyman, 11. Bodene Thompson, 12. Ryan Hoffman, 13. Simon Mannering. Interchange: 14. Erin Clark, 15. Charlie Gubb, 16. Sam Lisone, 17. Bunty Afoa, 18. James Gavet, 20. Ligi Sao, 21. Blake Ayshford, 22. Kieran Foran.
Key Match-Up: Josh McCrone v Shaun Johnson: One is a flashy representative halfback. The other is Shaun Johnson. While McCrone shanked a few kicks throughout the Sharks' win, he was otherwise rock solid on the Dragons' right-edge. In Johnson, the Warriors have one of the most potent players in the NRL. The proof is in the pudding with the New Zealand international has crossed for a try every game so far in 2017. The two halfbacks are on equal pegging in terms of try assists (McCrone 2, Johnson 3).
The History: Played 24; Dragons 19, Warriors 5. The Dragons have won 14 of their past 16 against the Warriors, but failed to beat them the last time they played. With six players suspended, the Warriors produced a 26-10 win in Round 9 last year. The Dragons can't afford to rest on the laurels this time around as the Warriors are expected to be full-strength.
Match Officials: Referee: Dave Munro. Assistant Referee: Chris Sutton. Sideline Officials: David Ryan and Peter Gough.
Televised: Fox League – Live coverage from 6pm
Radio: ABC and Triple M