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The Canterbury Cup NSW Dragons are only 80 minutes away from a grand final appearance when they take on the Newtown Jets. Here are five important factors about Sunday's massive game.

Grand final awaits

With a place in the Canterbury Cup grand final on the line, there's no doubt Sunday's clash will be an intense NRL-standard clash.

After 24 rounds of the regular season, the Dragons finished as minor premiers and come into the match as the team to beat. The Newtown Jets meanwhile snuck into the finals in seventh place after winning four of their last five games.

2016 was the last time the Dragons (then called the Illawarra Cutters) made the grand final in the state competition, when they narrowly trumped the Mounties 21-20 in a thrilling decider. 

The Newtown Jets will have redemption on their mind though, following their six-point grand final loss to the Bulldogs last year.

Stars back on deck 

The Dragons are fielding a full-strength side for the preliminary final with a number of NRL players available for the do-or-die clash.

Fullback Tristan Sailor, winger Jonus Pearson, back-rower Jackson Ford and hooker Reece Robson have all been named to return to the side. Towering forward Josh Kerr also returns to the starting line-up with Mitch Allgood shifting to lock.

The influx of NRL players has forced coach Mat Head to fine-tune the line-up from their last start victory against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. For the full team list and positional changes, click here.

CC Dragons match highlights: Finals week one v Bulldogs

Wobbly record 

Despite finishing clear of the Jets on the ladder by six points, the Dragons failed to trump the Sharks' feeder side on both encounters this season.

In Round 11, a late charge from the Dragons wasn't enough to prevent a 36-22 loss. Their Round 16 match also had a similar script, with the Dragons storming home in the second half to only fall short 24-18. 

Photo finish

There wasn't much between the two sides at the conclusion of the regular season further adding to the exciting contest. 

The Dragons finished the season as the highest scoring team (612) behind the Jets (610). The Dragons also finished on top for most tries scored (110) to the Jets (109).

The Jets can, however, claim the most goal kicking success (87), but true to the competitiveness of both sides the Dragons are right on their heels (86). 

Home ground advantage 

The way the chips have fallen, the Dragons will get the home ground advantage and play at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Kogarah this Sunday.

The match kicks off at 3:10pm after two curtain-raiser matches involving the Sydney Shield and Ron Massey Cup preliminary finals (first match at 10:50am).

Tickets for the day are $10 for adults with kids free. Tickets are only available at the gate.

If you can't make it to Kogarah to cheer the boys on in person, the match will be broadcast live on Channel 9 in NSW. For people out of state, you can see live updates via our match day centre here.   

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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