NRL Preview: Round 20
St George Illawarra Dragons v Manly Sea Eagles
WIN Stadium, Wollongong
It's not panic stations for St George Illawarra as of yet but a win certainly wouldn't hurt the Dragons' hopes of securing a finals berth.
The third-placed Sea Eagles won't be easy beats however considering they've been the form team of the competition over the past six weeks.
The Dragons provided an improved performance in the nation's capital last week but couldn't seal a victory over the Canberra Raiders in golden point.
The Red V will be boosted by the return of back-rower Tyson Frizell as Tariq Sims returns to the bench. Jack de Belin shifts back to lock and Paul Vaughan to prop.
Russell Packer is named in the reserves after suffering a hip injury against the Raiders last Friday night.
Euan Aitken also returns from a hamstring injury with Kurt Mann shifting to the bench in place of Taane Milne. Blake Lawrie also replaces Hame Sele on the interchange.
The Sea Eagles have suffered a double blow of injuries with regular goal kicker Matthew Wright and Apisai Koroisau ruled out, replaced by Brad Parker and Cameron Cullen respectively.
Dragons: 1. Josh Dugan, 2. Nene Macdonald, 3. Euan Aitken, 4. Tim Lafai, 5. Jason Nightingale, 6. Gareth Widdop (c), 7. Josh McCrone, 8. Leeson Ah Mau, 9. Cameron McInnes, 10. Paul Vaughan, 11. Tyson Frizell, 12. Joel Thompson, 13. Jack de Belin. Interchange: 14. Tariq Sims, 15. Jacob Host, 16. Blake Lawrie, 17. Kurt Mann, 18. Matt Dufty, 19. Taane Milne, 20. Russell Packer, 21. Jake Marketo.
Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic, 2. Brad Parker, 3. Dylan Walker, 4. Brian Kelly, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Blake Green, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (c), 8. Brenton Lawrence, 9. Cameron Cullen, 10. Martin Taupau, 11. Frank Winterstein, 12. Shaun Lane, 13. Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: 14. Jackson Hastings, 15. Lloyd Perrett, 16. Darcy Lussick, 17. Addin Fonua-Blake, 18. Jarrad Kennedy, 19. Joey Lussick, 20. Lewis Brown, 21. Jonathan Wright.
Key Match-Up: Josh McCrone v Daly Cherry-Evans – The last time these two players came across one another it was McCrone who put on the master class. The Dragons halfback produced four try assists back in Round 6 against Cherry-Evans's Sea Eagles. However, the Manly skipper has been the NRL's premier playmaker in recent times with him topping the try assists tally (17) competition-wide.
The History: Played 25; Dragons 16, Sea Eagles 9. The Dragons have won six of their last 10 games against Manly, including two wins in their past three meetings. The Red V was victorious when they last met the Sea Eagles back in Round 6, with a 35-10 win at Lottoland.
Match Officials: Referee: Ashley Klein. Assistant Referee: Alan Shortall. Sideline Officials: Dave Munro and Chris McMillan.
Televised: Fox League – Live coverage from 1:30pm
Radio: ABC and 2GB