While the 2018 #NRL Pre-Season is still a few weeks away, there's a bunch of warm-up clashes happeni...
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Last-chance saloon for Dragons against improving Dogs
The equation is simple for the Dragons this week - win and they will finish inside the Top Eight, lose and Paul McGregor's men will have to come to terms with a stunning late-season freefall. Fortunately, St. George will be brimming with confidence after they overcame an in-form Panthers outfit 16-14 last week to keep their season alive. In addition, given the Cowboys' 20-10 loss to Brisbane on Thursday night, the Dragons now hold their destiny within their own hands. Josh Dugan makes his return to McGregor's side this week after the Australian representative missed the team bus last weekend and will likely be keen to repay his teammates. However, the Dragons will have to conquer history on Sunday afternoon if they emerge victorious given that they have only won one of their past 11 against the Bulldogs.
Their task is made even more difficult as they come up against a Bulldogs outfit on the rise. Only weeks ago, a meeting with Des Hasler's men would have struggled to strike fear into any opposition team. Yet, two-straight wins over Manly and Gold Coast have given the Canterbury outfit a glimmer of hope next year which could spell trouble for the desperate Dragons. Fortunately for the home side, Josh Reynolds may be given the chance to play his last game in Blue and White colours on Sunday afternoon.
The Bulldogs bounced back from a 38-0 hiding at the hands of Penrith to stun the Dragons 16-2 on Queen's Birthday earlier this year.
Who to watch: For the Dragons, Tariq Sims may have stole the show up front, but revitalised prop Paul Vaughan starred again and will look to step up once more against the formidable Bulldogs' pack on Sunday afternoon. Vaughan was impressive last week against Penrith, managing 172 running metres, a try and line break.
However, if Reynolds does play on Sunday afternoon, all eyes will be on the feisty five-eighth in what will be his final game in the Blue and White. The Bulldogs may be on somewhat of a roll recently, yet the injection of Reynolds could prove decisive if the Dogs outmatch the desperate Dragons for emotional commitment to the game.
My tip: Despite their terrible recent record against the Dogs, last week's victory may be the confidence boost that the Dragons need to make one final statement before September football begins. Dragons by 18.
1. Matthew Dufty 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Josh Dugan 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Kurt Mann 14. Tariq Sims 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin 8. Leeson Ah Mau 15. Hame Sele 16. Blake Lawrie 17. Josh McCrone
1. William Hopoate 2. Chase Stanley 3. Josh Morris 4. Brenko Lee 5. Marcelo Montoya 20. Josh Reynolds 7. Moses Mbye 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Adam Elliot 13. David Klemmer 6. Matt Frawley 15. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 16. Danny Fualalo 17. Francis Tualau