NRL Preview: Round 8 v Roosters
Sydney Roosters v St George Illawarra Dragons
Allianz Stadium, Moore Park
The St George Illawarra Dragons will look to maintain their standing atop the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder against the Sydney Roosters in the traditional Anzac Day clash at Allianz Stadium, Moore Park this Tuesday.
The Dragons' incredible record on Anzac Day means very little against the Roosters especially since both teams are sitting pretty in the top four.
The Red V will welcome back Josh Dugan (hamstring) at fullback for the significant fixture, with Kurt Mann shifting back to the interchange.
Five-eighth and skipper Gareth Widdop (150th NRL game) and centre Tim Lafai (100th NRL game) will also celebrate big milestones against the Tricolours.
Other than positional switches for the Roosters – Blake Ferguson and Shaun Kenny-Dowall swap and Jake Friend starts – they will welcome back Kane Evans on the bench in place of Ryan Matterson (syndesmosis).
Roosters: 1. Michael Gordon, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Joseph Manu, 4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 5. Blake Ferguson, 6. Luke Keary, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9. Jake Friend, 10. Isaac Liu, 11. Boyd Cordner, 12. Mitchell Aubusson, 13. Aidan Guerra. Interchange: 14. Zane Tetevano, 15. Paul Carter, 16. Kane Evans, 17. Sio Siua Taukeiaho, 18. Latrell Mitchell, 19. Dylan Napa, 20. Connor Watson, 21. Lindsay Collins.
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. Kurt Mann, 17. Hame Sele, 18. Taane Milne, 19. Jacob Host, 20. Luciano Leilua, 21. Blake Lawrie.
Key Match-Up: Luke Keary v Gareth Widdop – Two of the form five-eighths of the competition, Keary and Widdop head into Anzac Day with not much between them statistically. In terms of try assists (Widdop 8, Keary 7), tackle breaks (Widdop 10, Keary 9) and tries (Widdop 6, Keary 3) there is very little separating them. They're even producing a similar amount of missed tackles per game (Widdop 4, Keary 3.6).
The History: Played 36; Roosters 16, Dragons 19, Drawn 1. The Roosters may have won eight of their past 11 games against the Dragons but when it comes to Anzac Day, history tells us a different story. The Red V has won a whopping seven of the past nine games on April 25 against the Roosters, including the past two years.
Match Officials: Referee: Matt Cecchin. Assistant Referee: Alan Shortall. Sideline Officials: Chris Butler and Brett Suttor.
Televised: Channel Nine – Live coverage from 3:30pm; Fox League – Live coverage from 3:30pm.
Radio: ABC, 2GB and Triple M