Our resident Dragons fan is back, as he highlights his game of the week for Round 22, and what each side has to do to win. Will he be loyal and stick with the Dragons, or will he be tempted to select the Roosters?
ROUND 22 – Sydney Roosters V St. George Illawarra Dragons – Friday, ANZ Stadium 19.45 local time, 21.45 NZ time.
LAST WEEK: Sydney bombed out after an early lead to be well and truly beaten 36-16 against the impressive Gold Coast Titans.
St. George Illawarra were mighty impressive as they sunk the Melbourne Storm 26-18 in their fifth straight loss.
THIS WEEK: The Roosters who’s season is over, will be doing their best to upset everyone on their run to the finals – starting with the Dragons. The Roosters who have been disappointing for the majority of the season now have nothing left to lose, so they should just lay it all out on the line here. They have the talent all over the paddock to run in tries all game, and with a mighty young forward pack that will match it up against their opposition. This is going to be physical, and this is how the Roosters love to play their football. Right in the face of the team they are up against. A powerhouse of muscle.
The Dragons are leaving their run a little late, and every game from here on in needs to have desperation written all over it. The little things like diving on a loose ball, or the finesse of their fifth tackle plays will have to be the things done well and in their favour. They were lucky to win last time around on an ANZAC Day thriller, but it won’t be the same again. A good start is a necessity and a platform that they work best from. The forwards have been missing in action at times this year but there is no time for that now.
WHAT TO EXPECT: A bit of off the cusp style and the unorthodox approach to everything. Sydney have tried their best all season and things they have tried haven’t worked so a reinvention of things may work wonders. The halves will run to the line a bit more, to drag in those big boys defending around the ruck to open it up wide. A lot of wide ball early on I suspect too. Something that the Roosters haven’t done too much of this season but when they have it’s worked wonders. They look their most dangerous when with ball in hand and plenty of metres to play with.
The experience of their last few finals campaigns under Wayne Bennett to shine through. It’s the sort of time where the guys with the know how need to stand up and be ultimate leaders for the guys who have not been in this sort of position before. St. George Illawarra have always prided themselves on that sort of stuff, and if they want to make the top eight this will have to be the way. The forwards will need to out muscle the Roosters, which is easier said than done.
THE BATTLE OF: Fabulous fullbacks. Anthony Minichello has been a role model for anyone making their way through the grades in the game. He’s fearless, fast and is always in the right place at the right time. He is one of the most valuable members in this Roosters side and his experience has been key.
Jason Nightingale runs as hard as anyone out there and has the work ethic of a prop. He loves getting stuck in whether it’s close to the line, or running it back after a kick. Nightingale is the sort of player every club wishes they had and he is a great attacking asset for the side.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Tinirau Arona – He has been one of the stand-out performers this season for the Roosters. Whether he comes off the bench or starts his impact is always noticeable.
Chase Stanley – Has been the sort of player that doesn’t get many mentions, but is always there working hard. He was invaluable last weekend and will be there to do his all once again.
Last time these two met it was a last gasp try by the Dragons in an absolute thriller which got them home, and it will be another sort of high excitement game. The Dragons need to keep their season alive, and need to win. The Roosters as I mentioned have nothing to lose. Who will prevail? Dragons 20-10.