Round 4 Preview: St. George Illawara Dragons vs Newcastle Knights

Photo Source: nrl.com

St. George Illawara Dragons
Win Stadium
Sunday, 1st April
4:10pm AEST, 6:10pm NZ


Dragons
1 Matthew Dufty
2 Nene Macdonald
3 Euan Aitken
4 Tim Lafai
5 Jason Nightingale
6 Gareth Widdop (c)
7 Ben Hunt
8 James Graham
9 Cameron McInnes
10 Paul Vaughan
11 Tyson Frizell
12 Tariq Sims
13 Jack De Belin

Interchange: 14 Luciano Leilua, 15 Kurt Mann, 16 Leeson Ah Mau, 17 Hame Sele
Reserves: 18 Jeremy Latimore, 19 Zachary Lomax

Knights

1 Kalyn Ponga
2 Shaun Kenny-Dowall
3 Sione Mata'utia
4 Tautau Moga
5 Nathan Ross
6 Brock Lamb
7 Mitchell Pearce (c)
8 Herman Ese'ese
9 Slade Griffin
10 Jacob Lillyman
11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
12 Aidan Guerra
13 Mitchell Barnett

Interchange: 14 Jamie Buhrer (c), 15 Chris Heighington, 16 Jacob Saifiti, 17 Daniel Saifiti
Reserves: 18 Ken Sio, 20 Danny Levi

Preview:


Both sides are playing good football this year. The Dragons have a few new faces in Ben Hunt and James Graham who have been outstanding this season so far, and for the Knights Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga have brought a new breath of life to the young side. 

Look for this game to be a fast paced game played through the middle third with the halves on either side playing off quick play the balls. The battle at Fullback should be an interesting one with the Rookie who is still proving himself in Kalyn Ponga going up against Matt Dufty.

Kalyn Ponga vs Matt Dufty

Both Fullbacks have been in some incredible form this season. Fresh at a new team, many wondered how young Kalyn Ponga would go, and boy is he showing us something. Every time he touches the ball you can see him poke through the line or create an overlap with that Benji Marshall like step. 

Dufty on the other hand looks to be showing us that he is one of the best up and coming Fullbacks in the comp. Every time he runs the ball back from the kick off he shows urgency, and when he is floating around the field you can normally always spot him in the middle of the ruck looking for that ball.

Battle of the Halves

The Knights suffered a blow last week with Connor Watson going down injured with a dislocated shoulder however they have brought in Brock Lamb to replace him and partner Mitchell Pearce. Pearce was outstanding over the last few weeks especially with his kicking game always keeping it on point and on target.

On the other hand you have Garreth Widdop who seems to only be getting better as each season goes on. Last week he put the Titans to the slaughter as he had a hand in everything from try assists to even scoring himself. Look for Widdop to be very busy. On the other hand the Dragons new recruit Ben Hunt is also having a very solid year this year, and with Widdop taking charge Hunt can just do his normal thing and apply pressure with his excellent short kicking game.

Battle of the Bench

Well this may seem like a strange match-up however both sides are carrying a mixture of experience and youth. The experience seems to be in favour of the Knights however with Chris Heighington and Jamie Buhrer. The Saifiti brother acompany them on the bench and this year they have been in some good form. Look for these two especially to come on in the middle of the game and create an impact.

The Dragons however have Leeson Ah mau and Kurt Mann. Ah Mau has been on of the best forwards coming off the bench this season averaging over 120 metres per game as well as causing mayhem every time he touches the ball. Look for him to come on and terrorise the Knights defence.

Prediction:

I think the Knights will put up a solid fight but I can't go past the Dragons this week. The experience this Dragons side has will prove to be the difference maker and look for Widdop to put in another Man of the Match performance. Dragons by 12.

-Fewy

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