The Roosters appear to be timing their premiership run to perfection judging by recent performances.
Last week they gave up the game's opening try to the Warriors and went on to score 42 unanswered points in a runaway victory.
It's probably too late to snatch the minor premiership from Melbourne, given the Storm host the Titans and Cowboys in two of their final three games, but the Roosters are right where they need to be to defend their crown.
The Dragons' narrow loss to the Sharks last week summed up their season in a lot of ways. It's hard to see them staying close on Saturday night, despite the fact they'll be on home soil at Kogarah.
Match: Dragons v Roosters
Round 23 -
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
Dragons: Tristan Sailor is a late inclusion in the starting side with Ben Hunt dropping out with concussion, while Jacob Host joins the interchange. Jonus Pearson comes in on the wing for his eighth game of the season at the expense of Mikaele Ravalawa, who dropped out of the squad on game day. Jackson Ford has been promoted to the starting side after making his NRL debut off the bench last week. Patrick Kaufusi (concussion protocols) and Josh Kerr were the first omissions 24 hours out from kickoff.
Roosters: Latrell Mitchell is out with calf tightness, replaced by Billy Smith, while Lindsay Collins replaces Poasa Faamausili on the bench. Lachlan Lam and Sitili Topouniua were the 24-hour cuts from the squad.
Fullback for Dragons is number 1 Corey NormanFullback for Roosters is number 1 James Tedesco
Winger for Dragons is number 2 Zac LomaxWinger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel Tupou
Centre for Dragons is number 3 Euan AitkenCentre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph Manu
Centre for Dragons is number 4 Timoteo LafaiCentre for Roosters is number 20 Billy Smith
Winger for Dragons is number 5 Jonus PearsonWinger for Roosters is number 5 Brett Morris
Five-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Gareth WiddopFive-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Luke Keary
Halfback for Dragons is number 18 Tristan SailorHalfback for Roosters is number 7 Cooper Cronk
Prop for Dragons is number 8 James GrahamProp for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Hooker for Dragons is number 9 Cameron McInnesHooker for Roosters is number 9 Sam Verrills
Prop for Dragons is number 10 Paul VaughanProp for Roosters is number 10 Isaac Liu
2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Jackson Ford2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Angus Crichton
2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Luciano Leilua2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Mitchell Aubusson
Lock for Dragons is number 13 Tyson FrizellLock for Roosters is number 13 Victor Radley
Interchange for Dragons is number 14 Jeremy LatimoreInterchange for Roosters is number 14 Nat Butcher
Interchange for Dragons is number 15 Korbin SimsInterchange for Roosters is number 15 Zane Tetevano
Interchange for Dragons is number 16 Blake LawrieInterchange for Roosters is number 17 Siosiua Taukeiaho
Interchange for Dragons is number 20 Jacob HostInterchange for Roosters is number 18 Lindsay Collins
Corey Norman moves to the halves and will need to dig deep into his bag of tricks as he and Gareth Widdop look to match motors with premiership-winning halves Cooper Cronk and Luke Keary. In the pack, Tyson Frizell will relish his duel with former NSW Origin team-mate Angus Crichton.
For the Dragons to win
James Graham needs a good swig from the fountain of youth before he lines up for a crack at the formidable Roosters pack. The ageing warhorse will need steady support up front from Frizell, Paul Vaughan and Blake Lawrie, while skilful back-rower Luciano Leilua has to know when to go for the home-run play and when to play it safe. Whichever way you look at it, it's going to take something special for the Dragons to pull off an upset.
For the Roosters to win
If it ain't broke ... you know the rest. The premiers didn't always look great during the season but they sure look unbeatable at the moment. Trent Robinson typically has his forwards locked into their roles, while the star-studded backline has every base covered. All due respect to Boyd Cordner but his injury-enforced absence has barely been noticed. The Chooks will be salivating at the prospect of taking on a down and out Dragons side.
Brett Kimmorley says
We’ve seen the Roosters put lots of big scorelines on lately and I think this will be another one similar to that. They are finding their groove. The Dragons shot themselves in the foot against the Sharks last weekend. They had nothing to play for and it looks like they are just cruising through to the end of the season. I think that with the pace that this will be played at the Dragons won’t be able to handle the game place the Roosters will play at. Roosters by 14
James Tedesco leads the league in line breaks (19) and tackle breaks (125). Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary shares the lead in line break assists (15) with Mitchell Pearce and Damien Cook.
And another thing ...
Latrell Mitchell had a day out when the Roosters beat the Dragons 20-10 in their annual Anzac Day clash, scoring the game's first try and kicking 4/4 goals. The Chooks led 14-0 at half-time before the Dragons got back in the match with tries to Zac Lomax (49th minute) and Matt Dufty (53rd) but couldn't get their noses in front. Roosters prop Siosiua Taukeiaho sealed victory with a 76th-minute try under the posts.