ANZ Stadium is the place to be this Saturday night as the second preliminary showdown of the penultimate NRL finals week takes place with the Dragons ready to take on the Tigers.
St George Illawarra got the green light straight through to this match using last week to rest and recuperate following their massive 28 – nil win over Manly a fortnight ago.
Shrugging off their ‘finals chockers’ title, Bennett’s back-to-back Minor Premiership winners now have the shield in their sights and will stop at just about nothing to win this.
Anything sound familiar here?
Think back to 2005, same story with the Dragons coming off a week’s rest to play the Tigers in the preliminary finals. St George were the favourites, the Tigers won then continued on to take out the Grand Final too.
Will history repeat itself?
Footy Tip of the Match – Wests Tigers/Dragons in the Halftime/Fulltime markets at $7 through SportsBet
The Wests Tigers have just managed to live through two of the most nail-biting matches of the year to get to this week.
First they lost to the Roosters in a 100 minute golden-point extra-time game that will be talked about for decades to come.
This forced the third-ranked Tigers to play for their life in last weekend’s semis, where they escaped victorious by just two points to end the Raiders fairy tale run.
Now it comes down to the 80 minutes on Saturday night and after a week off and the home ground advantage, the Dragons are the obvious favourites currently at the short quote of $1.40 to win through Sportsbet with the Tigers the $3 underdogs.
These two have come face to face just once this year when the Dragons smashed the Tigers 34 – 10 back in June.
However, Wests escaped last week relatively free of any injury and with Marshall and his men at full strength and a bit of early luck the Tigers can cause an upset.
St George don’t like to fight back from a deficit, and the Tigers have a good record of getting to the lead at halftime so this can work in their favour.
What Wests must work on is playing consistently in the second half and holding onto the lead if they have it, as they nearly gave it away again last week.
But with Soward, Boyd, Gasnier and Morris all playing brilliantly the Dragons are dangerous, defensively hard to break and will be looking to bring plenty of prepared pain to their rivals.
Wests will bring the entertainment for the sell-out crowd while St George will continue on their clinical way, what will win the match?
Likely the precise planning from the Dragons but there will be plenty of points from the Tigers too.
Current Head-to-Head Odds:
Dragons $1.40 – Tigers $3 SportsBet
NRLleague Footy Tip of the Match:
The Tigers have a great record of leading on the board in the first half. However, they have let go of many good leads and are likely to tire second half in the face of a well rested Dragons outfit. That is why we are tipping the Tigers to lead at halftime but the Dragons to win at $7 through Sportsbet.
Finals Week 3 Dragons Team:
1. Darius Boyd 2. Brett Morris 3. Mark Gasnier 4. Matt Cooper 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Jamie Soward 7. Ben Hornby 8. Neville Costigan 9. Dean Young 10. Michael Weyman 11. Beau Scott 12. Ben Creagh 13. Jeremy Smith
Bench: 14. Nathan Fien 15. Trent Merrin 16. Matt Prior 17. Jarrod Saffy
Reserves: 18. Nick Emmett 19. Kyle Stanley 20. Jon Green 21. Luke Priddis
Finals Week 3 Tigers Team:
1. Mitch Brown 2. Lote Tuqiri 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Beau Ryan 6. Benji Marshall 7. Robert Lui 8. Todd Payten 9. Robbie Farah 10. Keith Galloway 11. Liam Fulton 12. Gareth Ellis 13. Chris Heighington
Bench: 14. Ben Murdock-Masila 15. Daniel Fitzhenry 16. Simon Dwyer 17. Bryce Gibbs
Reserves: 18. Mark Flanagan 19. Andrew Fifita