NRL Preview: Round 11 v Warriors
New Zealand Warriors v St George Illawarra Dragons
FMG Stadium, Waikato
Friday, 6pm (AEST), 8pm (NZT)
What hasn't been lacking from St George Illawarra's losing run is their effort.
Minus the first half against the Melbourne Storm back in Round 9, the Dragons have been in the fight throughout their past three games.
With a mounting injury toll to contend with – this week for example Euan Aitken (hamstring) is out indefinitely – the Dragons haven't let that slide into their excuse bank.
Kalifa Faifai Loa will play his first game of the season on the wing in light of Aitken's injury, while Cameron McInnes and Kurt Mann will celebrate their 50th NRL games.
With Simon Mannering and Manu Vatuvei again unavailable for the Warriors, as well as Solomone Kata; Ken Maumalo is the new face in Stephen Kearney's 17.
The Warriors have plenty of reason to celebrate this week too – despite being up 28-6 against the Panthers before losing by eight points last weekend – with Ben Matulino (200th NRL game) and Bodene Thompson (50 games for the Warriors) celebrating milestones of their own.
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), 2. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 3. Blake Ayshford, 4. David Fusitu'a, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Kieran Foran, 7. Shaun Johnson, 8. James Gavet, 9. Issac Luke, 10. Jacob Lillyman, 11. Bodene Thompson, 12. Ryan Hoffman, 13. Bunty Afoa. Interchange: 14. Nathaniel Roache, 15. Sam Lisone, 16. Ligi Sao, 17. Ben Matulino, 18. Charlie Gubb, 20. Mason Lino, 21. Albert Vete, 22. Tuimoala Lolohea.
Dragons: 1. Jason Nightingale, 2. Nene Macdonald, 3. Taane Milne, 4. Tim Lafai, 5. Kalifa Faifai Loa, 6. Kurt Mann, 7. Josh McCrone, 8. Russell Packer, 9. Cameron McInnes, 10. Paul Vaughan, 11. Tyson Frizell (c), 12. Joel Thompson, 13. Jack de Belin. Interchange: 14. Tariq Sims, 15. Leeson Ah Mau, 16. Hame Sele, 17. Jai Field, 18. Matt Dufty, 19. Siliva Havili, 20. Luciano Leilua, 21. Jacob Host.
Key Match-Up: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck v Jason Nightingale: It's no secret Tuivasa-Sheck had a quiet game throughout the Panthers' shock comeback win last weekend. The Warriors' skipper simply cannot afford any fade outs against the Red V. At the same time, Tuivasa-Sheck is a regular custodian whereas Nightingale is doing a good job playing out of position. The veteran Dragon, while solid in the No. 1 jumper, will have to be at his very best to match the incumbent Kiwis fullback.
The History: Played 25; Warriors 5, Dragons 20. The Dragons have won 15 of their past 17 games against the Warriors. That includes the Red V's 26-12 win over their upcoming opponents back in Round 4 at UOW Jubilee Oval, Kogarah, which saw Warriors five-eighth Kieran Foran ruled out in the warm up.
Match Officials: Referee: Henry Perenara. Assistant Referee: Peter Gough. Sideline Officials: Russell Turner and Chris McMillan.
Televised: Fox League – Live coverage from 5:30pm (AEST)
Radio: ABC and Triple M