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A battle of two sides who entertained dreams of playing finals football eight weeks ago but have both fallen in massive holes to drop out of contention.

The Cowboys slumped to their 10th consecutive loss in round 23, outclassed 32-16 by the Eels, while the Red V showed flashes of brilliance against the Roosters before succumbing 40-22, their sixth defeat in a row.

Mathematically the Dragons remain some hope of making the eight if they can win their final two games but even if they beat the Cowboys and Rabbitohs an inferior points differential would most likely see them miss out.

On a positive note, one of these sides will get that winning feeling back this weekend and take some sort of momentum into the final round of the season.

The rundown

Team news

Dragons: Anthony Griffin made a number of changes on Tuesday as he searches for answers after six losses on the trot.

Tyrell Sloan is the new fullback taking the place of Matt Dufty while Blake Lawrie returns from a hand injury at prop.

Loan recruit Freddy Lussick, who arrived from the Roosters, will share hooker duties with Jayden Sullivan.

Poasa Faamausili is the 18th man, with Gerard Beale dropping out of the squad on game day. Kaide Ellis and Josh Kerr were dropped when the squad was reduced to 19 players 24 hours out from kick-off.

The Dragons have won five of their past seven games against the Cowboys.

Cowboys: Jason Taumalolo (hand) is a confirmed starter at prop, with Kyle Feldt (jaw) and Murray Taulagi (concussion) also returning in a big boost for Todd Payten's battling side.

Feldt and Taulagi take over on the wings with Val Holmes sliding into the centres and Laitia Moceidreke dropping to the reserves. 

Holmes' move to the centres could be a glimpse into the future with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow earning another start at fullback.

Ieremia Nanai will start in the second row with Heilum Luki to come off the bench.
Daejarn Asi is the 18th man. Tom Gilbert was omitted from the squad an hour before kick-off after Francis Molo and Moceidreke dropped out on Friday.

The Cowboys have conceded an average of over 34 points per game since their bye in round 13.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Dragons is number 1 Tyrell Sloan
    Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
  • Winger for Dragons is number 2 Mathew Feagai
    Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
  • Centre for Dragons is number 3 Jack Bird
    Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Valentine Holmes
  • Centre for Dragons is number 4 Zac Lomax
    Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Ben Hampton
  • Winger for Dragons is number 5 Mikaele Ravalawa
    Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Murray Taulagi
  • Five-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Talatau Amone
    Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Scott Drinkwater
  • Halfback for Dragons is number 7 Corey Norman
    Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Tom Dearden

Forwards

  • Prop for Dragons is number 8 Blake Lawrie
    Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Jason Taumalolo
  • Hooker for Dragons is number 9 Jayden Sullivan
    Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
  • Prop for Dragons is number 10 Josh McGuire
    Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Jordan McLean
  • 2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Billy Burns
    2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Ben Condon
  • 2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Tariq Sims
    2nd Row for Cowboys is number 15 Jeremiah Nanai
  • Lock for Dragons is number 13 Jack De Belin
    Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Reuben Cotter

Interchange

  • Interchange for Dragons is number 14 Freddy Lussick
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 12 Heilum Luki
  • Interchange for Dragons is number 15 Tyrell Fuimaono
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 14 Jake Granville
  • Interchange for Dragons is number 16 Daniel Alvaro
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 16 Mitchell Dunn
  • Interchange for Dragons is number 17 Jackson Ford
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Griffin Neame

Reserves

  • Reserve for Dragons is number 19 Poasa Faamausili
    Reserve for Cowboys is number 19 Daejarn Asi

Match Officials

  • Referee: Peter Gough
  • Touch Judge: Darian Furner
  • Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
  • Senior Review Official: Matt Noyen

Last updated:

Key match-up

Talatau Amone v Scott Drinkwater: The Dragons No.6 has shown enough in the past two games to suggest he's the perfect man to partner Ben Hunt in the halves next year.

The 19-year-old has shown some dazzling footwork and speed off the mark and will look to exploit any weaknesses in the Cowboys ruck defence. Drinkwater is a bigger body and a powerful ball runner who also possesses an astute kicking game.

Stat attack

The Cowboys are conceding 30 points per game in 2021 and have given up more points than any other team in the competition (676). The Dragons concede 25 points per game on average but across the past six weeks that has ballooned to 34 per match as their season has imploded.

 

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