St George Illawarra Dragons: The run home

St George Illawarra Dragons
Current Position: 4th
Points: 29 (three points off first)

The Run Home: Raiders (A), Rabbitohs (H), Tigers (A), Roosters (H), Storm (A), Warriors (H), Panthers (H)

Key Matches: The round 24 clash with Melbourne at AAMI Stadium will be the key fixture for the Dragons as they attempt to take a third consecutive minor premiership.

Key Players: With an Origin series now under his belt, Jamie Soward will be the one stepping up for the Dragons in the big games. His pin-point kicking game and vision to take on the line have been hallmarks of the Dragons success recently, and his big-game mentality will assist in getting the Dragons home in tight games. Darius Boyd will also be keen to impress after a quiet period around Origin, while Trent Merrin’s representative experience this year will help him provide big impact off the bench.

Key Stats: Unsurprisingly, St George Illawarra has the lowest error count of any team in the NRL, and sit third on the missed tackle count. This is the key to the Dragons success in recent years, and seems to be no different in 2011. This lack of mistakes allows them to get in front, control the game and grind teams into submission.

Key Injuries: Captain Ben Hornby is the only major injury concern, with his fractured hand expected to keep him out until round 21.

Bunnies: Rabbitohs – The Dragons have been one of the form teams of the past three seasons, and as a result, they have a good record against most teams. The Rabbitohs in particular seem to fall at the Dragons feet, with St George Illawarra grabbing the last three victories.

Bogey Side: Raiders - Canberra may only be an outside chance of making this year’s finals, but they still could have a massive impact on the make up of the top eight, something the Dragons will try and prevent. The Dragons have only managed two wins from the last 15 meetings with the Raiders, and haven’t beaten them in Canberra since 2000.

Straight Shooting: While they sit a few points back at the time of writing, the Dragons are undoubtedly the benchmark of the competition, and will be aiming to parade the J.J. Giltinan Shield around WIN Stadium come round 26. They are meeting plenty of teams with finals aspirations, but will be back to full strength in the coming weeks, and are a force to be reckoned with in that state. After overcoming the 11 year curse last year, the Dragons will have all the artillery to fire again in 2011.