The Wests Tigers were licking their lips with anticipation as the Dragons players were dropping like flies; this weekends match up between the clubs looked like being a one sided affair to the Tigers after the Saints succumbed to injury with several stars ruled out with niggling problems.
However as both teams fight to secure Top 8 positions, it seems the tables are turning – with the Wests Tigers now with several key big men in doubt for the clash.
The Dragons were already without Justin Poore (knee) and Jason Ryles (thigh) but today the Wests Tigers look set to rule out front rower Bryce Gibbs with a hamstring injury. And team mates Todd Payten (hamstring) and in-form prop Keith Galloway also remain in doubt.
“We’ve got two or three guys that have got issues, it’s been a short week and it’s not easy to get everyone ready,” Tigers coach Tim Sheens said.
“We’re going to be struggling with Gibbs and Payten and there’s still a question mark on (Robbie) Farah as well.
“We’re going to have few last minute decisions on a few players ourselves.”
Farah declared himself a certain starter despite today’s training session being his first run of the week, the hooker-turned-halfback rolling his ankle in last week’s big win over the Bulldogs.
“It’s feeling good … it’s pretty much been in an ice bucket all week and it’s feeling a lot better,” Farah said.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll be sweet.”
Dragons coach Nathan Brown has named former Tiger Jarrod Saffy and young gun Dan Hunt in his engine room, and said it was up to those two and rookie Matt Prior to step up in the absence of first-choice stars Poore and Ryles.
“Basically Saffy’s been playing a bit of front row and a bit of back row and obviously Matt Prior’s played a few games in the back row and front row lately,” Brown said.
“We know that they can do a job, it’s just that now there’s a little bit more responsibility in playing a little bit more tired … They’re obviously replacing some pretty handy players.”
With three losses in their last four games, the Dragons suddenly find themselves fighting for their finals lives. A heavy loss tomorrow night and wins for Penrith and Newcastle could see the red and whites slip out of the top eight.
The Tigers are one of five teams two competition points behind the Dragons, those sides all needing at least three wins from their last five matches to book a finals berth.