NRL Round 11 – Match 3 Preview: St George Illawarra Dragons v Canberra Raiders

The first game on Sunday arvo has the Canberra Raiders travelling to WIN Stadium to play the number one Dragons at home, a tough ask of any team in the NRL.

Last week St George Illawarra reclaimed their dominance with a 19 – 6 win ahead of the Bulldogs after suffering defeat at the hands of Manly in round nine.

The Dragons are at the top of the ladder, sitting alone with eight wins and a proud 16 competition points. The only question remains whether they can keep up this top form in the face of State of Origin and the six star players they will have to do without.

This is the downfall of playing for such a representative rich team, and surely other clubs will be thinking that if they are going to slay the Dragons this is the time to do it.

St George Illawarra must play on without Darius Boyd and Neville Costigan named in the Maroons squad, as well as their top tryscoring talent Brett Morris, Matt Cooper making his origin debut, powerhouse Michael Weyman and Ben Creagh, all handed Blues jerseys this year.

How much of a difference will these missing players make and who is left? A lot, is the answer to the first question. The loss of Morris alone is going to have huge consequences on the Dragons’ ability to score. We all saw what happened when they had to play without Weyman and Nightingale after the Australia v New Zealand and City v Country games a fortnight ago.

So who is left in the red and whites to maintain the empire? Centre Jason Nightingale, five-eighth Jamie Soward and skipper Ben Hornby are all going to have to step up and create some plays if the Dragons are going to survive the rep season.

The Raiders, current $2.08 underdogs with, have a big but unpredictable team and despite their best efforts they have only won three of their games this year. Last week was not one of those wins as Canberra went down 6 – 17 to the Storm.

Thanks to the Origin selections, this week the Raiders will be playing without David Shillington (QLD) and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (NSW), a small dent in their squad in comparison to the Dragons.

The danger has been taken out of St George Illawarra’s left side and if the Raiders can control ball possession and use their size to their advantage they should have some points in them.

Even with so many players on Origin duties, we still think at home, if Soward can lead as he did last week, St George Illawarra can outlast the Raiders and win here.

Current Head-to-Head Odds: Dragons $1.75 – Raiders $2.08

Round 11 Dragons Team:

1. Kyle Stanley 2. Michael Left 3. Matt Prior 4. Beau Scott 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Jamie Soward 7. Ben Hornby (c) 8. Dan Hunt 9. Luke Priddis 10. Trent Merrin 11. Ricky Thorby 12. Nick Emmett 13. Dean Young

Bench: 14. Jon Green 15. Jarrod Saffy 16. Jake Marketo 17. Michael Greenfield

Round 11 Raiders Team:

1. Josh Dugan 2. Joel Monaghan 3. Jarrod Crocker 4. Joel Thompson 5. Daniel Vidot 6. Terry Campese (c) 7. Josh McCrone 8. Dane Tilse 9. Glen Buttriss 10. Scott Logan 11. Joe Picker 12. Bronson Harrison 13. Trevor Thurling

Bench: 14. Brett Kelly 15. Danny Galea 16. Troy Thompson 17. Sam Mataora