Mitch Rein and Josh Hodgson will be crucial in the battle between the Dragons and the Raiders.

Schick Hydro Preview: St George Illawarra Dragons v Canberra Raiders
UOW Jubilee Oval
Thursday 7:50pm

Seven players from Sunday's Country-City clash will feature at the newly-named UOW Jubilee Oval on a four day turnaround, while Jack de Belin (shoulder) will be a noticeable omission. 

Canberra have been hit hardest with five of their players set to play their part in this one. 

Country's Shannon Boyd, Jarrod Croker, Paul Vaughan and Jack Wighton as well as City's Aidan Sezer will feature for the Raiders in an unchanged line-up from their disappointing one-point loss to the Panthers in Round 9.

De Belin's absence – with him set to miss the next six weeks – allows Joel Thompson to return and partner Country's Tyson Frizell in the back row. Tim Lafai will also return in the centres alongside another Country rep Euan Aitken at the expense of Adam Quinlan.

Match Centre

 

Watch out Dragons: Blake Austin made a steady return from a hamstring injury in the Raiders' last game against Penrith. With a 12-day rest now under his belt Austin is Canberra's red hot hope, with halves partner Sezer part of the Raiders' five who played in Tamworth.   

Watch out Raiders: Forbes Magpies junior Thompson would be filthy about being overlooked for Craig Fitzgibbon's Country Origin squad. Considering he missed the Dragons' last start trip to New Zealand due to suspension too, it means the 27-year-old is primed for a big one against his former club. 

Key Match-Up: Mitch Rein v Josh Hodgson – Josh Hodgson has been one of Canberra's constants in 2016. The Raiders' halves pairings have been a revolving door this season which has left Hodgson to pick up the slack wherever he sees fit. It's a massive reason why he's leading the Dally M Medal leaderboard after nine rounds and is in the top 15 for try assists (six) competition-wide. Mitch Rein will do his best against Hodgson considering he was ruled out of Country Origin selection. He's been in the wars of late but after a week off should be a worthy adversary for the Englishman.

The History: Played 26; Dragons 9, Raiders 16, Drawn 1. It's fair to say the hoodoo Canberra had over the Dragons throughout the 2000s is now dead and buried. The Dragons have beaten the Raiders in their past three meetings. Interestingly, these two teams haven't played in Sydney since Round 1, 2004 – a fair indication history means nothing in this one. 

What are the Odds:  Sportsbet is holding more than twice as much money on the Raiders in head to head betting. Canberra 1-12 is the most popular winning margin while Jordan Rapana is easily the best backed to score the first try of the game. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au

Match Officials: Referee: Ashley Klein. Assistant Referee: Adam Gee. Sideline Officials: Chris Butler & Adam Reid.

Televised: Channel Nine – Live coverage from 7:30pm; Fox Sports 1 – Live Coverage from 7:30pm. 

The way we see it:  The four-day turnaround for the aforementioned seven players shouldn't have as big an effect as it seems. In saying that, Canberra's five Country v City representatives are all crucial to the Raiders' fortunes and two games in five days isn't ideal. When it comes down to it, the Dragons have probably been in better form over the past month or so. St George Illawarra by two points.