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Being outside the top eight with two rounds to go is not ideal but last week's big win gave Wests Tigers renewed hope of playing finals.

After walloping Newcastle 46-4 in round 23, the Tigers meet a St George Illawarra side whose disappointing season is almost at a close.

The Dragons copped a 34-12 loss to the Roosters last start but will be determined to show their frustrated supporters there's reason to be optimistic about the future by finishing the year strongly.

The Tigers are still battling an injury pile-up but will be hopeful of getting the job done under-strength at the SCG to keep their campaign alive another week.

The Rundown

Team news

Dragons: Ben Hunt (concussion ) comes into the side as a late inclusion for Corey Norman (groin strain) who drops out of the match-day 17. Jacob Host is the other omission. Patrick Kaufusi has recovered from a head knock to displace Host in the 17. Tristan Sailor remains at fullback. The Dragons have won three of their past four games against the Tigers. Jeremy Latimore and Mikaele Ravalawa were the two players to drop out on Saturday.

Wests Tigers: Ryan Matterson has replaced Josh Reynolds at hooker with the listed No.9 dropping to the bench and Matt Eisenhuth starting at lock. When the same switch was made last week Benji Marshall started at dummy half with Matterson lining up at five-eighth. Tommy Talau and Chris McQueen are the Tigers' final cuts. Wests Tigers have only won one of their past five games at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Sam McIntyre was the play to drop out 24 hours out from kick-off.

Key match-up

Luke Brooks hasn't reached the heights he did last year in winning the Dally M Halfback of the Year award but his brilliance has been evident in patches. Meanwhile, Dragons No.7 Ben Hunt is back after a week off with concussion and looms as the Red V's key man.

For the Dragons to win

The Dragons look most likely when they're prepared to get dirty and scrap. Don't count Paul McGregor's men out if they curb the basic errors that have plagued them recently and show a willingness to stay in an arm-wrestle.

For the Tigers to win

A fast start is integral. Bagging a couple of early tries should extinguish any enthusiasm the Dragons begin with. Conversely, St George Illawarra will grow in confidence the longer the scores remain tight.

Brett Kimmorley says

If the Wests Tigers can find the aggression, skill and physicality that Benji Marshall helped provide last week they will cause more havoc and make this finals race go into Round 25. I can’t see the Dragons putting up much of a fight. Cameron McInnes has been unbelievable this season as a leader, and a runner from dummy half and a tackler, but unfortunately, I think he is doing so much on his own. Wests Tigers by 8

Stat Attack

Cameron McInnes has been enormous for the Dragons in a tough year. Proving his influence, the hooker has made the most tackles in the NRL (1,087) and had a whopping 2,395 receipts of the ball - second only to Melbourne's Cameron Smith.

And another thing ...

St George Illawarra boast six wins from their past nine matches against the Tigers.