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The St George Illawarra Dragons and North Queensland Cowboys will enter their Round 15 clash in Wollongong both desperate for a win, with seasons close to on the line. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage of the match from 6pm (AEST).
The parallels between the two sides this year are scarily similar as we come out of the representative weekend, but not positive for either side.
Both are at the wrong end of the ladder, and with the top eight getting further and further away on the back of some really average, bordering on poor, rugby league being played, this is a high stakes game for both sides if they hope to play finals footy come September.
Both teams currently sit on 12 competition points, and while that’s only four out of the top eight, the general mark to make the finals is 12 wins. For the Dragons in particular, who already have their bye points, it means they need at least seven wins from their final 12 games, which will be easier said than done.
What they do have now though is three straight games at home through a difficult part of the season after a long stretch playing away and it’s an absolute must that they start picking up victories to build some momentum.
The Red V have been a better team with Corey Norman on the field, but the way they have drifted in and out of games is worrying for coach Paul McGregor.
In their last start though, they barely even got into the game before being blown off the park by the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale.
Norman, alongside Ben Hunt, hold the key in the halves today, although shutting down Jason Taumalolo in the middle third will be a real problem.
Of course, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Cowboys either, but the men from Townsville do have a bye coming up in the next couple of weeks, and when playing well, have looked a hard team to stop.
As mentioned, that’s mainly led up the middle third by Jason Taumalolo, but some of their recent victories have also been aided along by excellent work out of dummy half by Jake Granville.
It’s Granville, and his battle against opposite number nine Cameon McInnes, which could hold the key to today’s game. Speed out of dummy half is instrumental in winning the battle up the middle third, and with points a plenty in both sides, whichever team can get on the front foot and hold momentum could run away with this.
The Dragons are at home, and have been good during the first half of games. This has to be the week they put 80 minutes together and take a win, but it’s a tough of a game as any to tip this weekend.
Dragons by 2.
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Kick-off: 6pm (AEST)
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
TV: Live, Fox League 501
Online: Live, Kayo Sports, Foxtel App, Foxtel Now
Betting: Dragons $1.50, Cowboys $2.55
Overall record: Played 31, Cowboys 16, Dragons 15
Last meeting: Round 1, 2019 – Cowboys 24 defeat Dragons 12 at 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville
Last five: Dragond 3, Cowboys 2
Record at venue: Played 14, Dragons 8, Cowboys 6
Referees: Henry Perenara, Liam Kennedy
St George Illawarra Dragons
1. Matthew Dufty 2. Jonus Pearson 3. Euan Aitken 20. Lachlan Maranta 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Ben Hunt 8. Blake Lawrie 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Jacob Host 12. Tariq Sims 13. Tyson Frizell
Interchange: 14. Jeremy Latimore 15. Reece Robson 16. Korbin Sims 17. Luciano Leilua 18. Jai Field 21. Josh Kerr
North Queensland Cowboys
1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Jordan Kahu 4. Tom Opacic 5. Enari Tuala 6. Michael Morgan 7. Jake Clifford 8. Scott Bolton 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Shane Wright 13. Jason Taumalolo
Interchange: 14. Reuben Cotter 15. John Asiata 16. Corey Jensen 17. Francis Molo 18. Peter Hola 19. Javid Bowen