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The St George Illawarra Dragons will need to reverse a long-running hoodoo if they are to pick up their third win of the season against the much improved Canterbury Bulldogs at Kogarah. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 4:05pm (AEDT).
The Dragons have been scrappy to start the new season, but not poor.
They come into this clash with the Bulldogs holding a two and two record, and will be searching for their third straight after Corey Norman kicked them to victories in the last fortnight with late field goals over the Broncos in the final minute and Knights in golden point.
They have been far from perfect, but the Red V have shown plenty of positive signs in their forwards, as they did in the first half of 2018.
Their biggest problem has been going in and out of games, as well as showing any inkling of controlling the ball well for 80 minutes, with a lot of sloppy errors characterising their season.
They are also learning how to play without Gareth Widdop, so that process will continue today.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, had an awful start to the season, but have risen to the level most expected them to be at in the last week or two.
They came away with their first win in Round 3 as they got the better of the Tigers, then took the Melbourne Storm all the way to the finish line on the road last week.
There is no question the changes Dean Pay made to his side ahead of Round 3 have helped them enormously, with Rhyse Martin and Nick Meaney showing their worth to the club in the two performances since.
The biggest problem for the Bulldogs this afternoon may be the little let down they have from their last performance, however, if they can remain solid, kick the ball well and match the Dragons in the forwards – which is not out of the question if they are aggressive – then this match is certainly not going to go one-sided.
The Bulldogs also have an outstanding record to maintain over the Dragons. They have won 12 of the last 14 encounters, which includes embarrassing the Red V at Kogarah 38-0 late last year, and beating them at Homebush in 2017 to end their finals chances.
The Dragons are the better side on paper, but their record in this fixture is dreadful. In saying that, there is going to be a bit of a come down for Canterbury, and it should be three on the hop for the Red V in another close match.
Dragons by 8.
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Kick-off: 4:05pm (AEDT)
Venue: Jubilee Oval, Kogarah
TV: Live, Fox League 502
Online: Live, Foxtel app, Foxtel now, Kayo Sports, NRL live pass
Overall record: Played 36, Bulldogs 24, Dragons 12
Last meeting: Round 24, 2018 – Dragons 0 defeated by Bulldogs 38 at Kogarah Oval
Last five: Bulldogs 4, Dragons 1
Record at venue: Played 5, Bulldogs 4, Dragons 1
Referees: Ashley Klein, Gerard Sutton
St George Illawarra Dragons
1. Matthew Dufty, 2. Jordan Pereira, 3. Euan Aitken, 4. Timoteo Lafai, 5. Mikaele Ravalawa, 6. Corey Norman, 7. Ben Hunt, 8. James Graham, 9. Cameron McInnes, 10. Paul Vaughan, 11. Tyson Frizell, 12. Tariq Sims, 13. Blake Lawrie
Interchange: 14. Jeremy Latimore, 15. Zac Lomax, 16. Jacob Host, 17. Luciano Leilua, 18. Mitch Allgood, 19. Jai Field, 20. Josh Kerr, 21. Jonus Pearson
1. Nick Meaney, 2. Jayden Okunbor, 3. Kerrod Holland, 4. Will Hopoate, 5. Reimis Smith, 6. Jack Cogger, 7. Lachlan Lewis, 8. Aiden Tolman, 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Ofahiki Ogden, 11. Josh Jackson, 12. Corey Harawira-Naera, 13. Rhyse Martin
Interchange: 14. Michael Lichaa, 15. Sauaso Sue, 16. Adam Elliott, 17. Chris Smith, 19, Danny Fualalo, 20. Marcel Montoya, 21. Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 22. Fa’amanu Brown