St George Illawarra Dragons v Wests Tigers
ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park
The St George Illawarra Dragons' first bye of the season came at an opportune time following their 'monkey off the back' win over the Warriors at FMG Stadium, Hamilton.
The Dragons' huge win over Stephen Kearney's men put a three-game losing run to bed and handed the Red V plenty of confidence as they returned to the NRL Telstra Premiership's top four.
They can't afford to take their upcoming opponents lightly on Saturday afternoon though, considering the Tigers are starring down the barrel of a lengthy losing streak themselves.
Plenty has changed since the Dragons and Tigers last met in Round 5, with the latter boasting a new coach, Ivan Cleary and playmaker in Tuimoala Lolohea. They'll also have to make do with first grade mainstays Sauaso Sue and Josh Aloiai.
The Dragons first 17 has changed slightly with Tariq Sims named in the back row instead of New South Wales Origin representative Tyson Frizell.
However, Frizell has been named in the reserves alongside Josh Dugan and should play pending both men get through Origin I injury-free. They may very well be joined by skipper Gareth Widdop who is inching closer to returning from a knee injury.
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. Tariq Sims, 12. Joel Thompson, 13. Jack de Belin. Interchange: 14. Jacob Host, 15. Leeson Ah Mau, 16. Hame Sele, 17. Jai Field, 18. Tyrone McCarthy, 19. Josh Dugan, 20. Tyson Frizell, 21. Gareth Widdop (c), 22. Blake Lawrie.
Wests Tigers: 1. James Tedesco, 2. David Nofoaluma, 3. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 4. Moses Suli, 5. Kevin Naiqama, 6., 7. Jack Littlejohn, 8. Aaron Woods (c), 9. Matt McIlwrick, 10. Ava Seumanufagai, 11. Kyle Lovett, 12. Chris Lawrence, 13. Elijah Taylor. Interchange: 14. Tim Grant, 15. JJ Felise, 16. Joel Edwards, 17. Jacob Liddle, 18. Esan Marsters, 19. Matthew Eisenhuth, 20. Jordan Rankin, 21. Michael Chee-Kam
Key Match-Up: Nene Macdonald v David Nofoaluma – Looking back at the Tigers' last meeting against the Dragons, it was abundantly clear how crucial Nofoaluma is to their fortunes. 75 tackle breaks and 33 offloads in 2017 has proven his importance overall. Macdonald played one of his best games of the season against the Warriors in Round 11, and will have to match it with his Tigers counterpart in the heat of battle.