Schick Hydro Preview: St George Illawarra Dragons v Newcastle Knights
UOW Jubilee Oval
The Newcastle Knights are on track to finish the season with the worst record since the Gold Coast Seagulls' year from hell in 1993.
That season, the Gold Coast won just one game – coincidentally against the Knights.
Newcastle have matched them this year by winning just once this season, while drawing another, and are potentially starring down the barrel of an 18th straight defeat.
Despite the Knights' woes, the Dragons have been equally as disappointing over the past fortnight with losses to the lowly-ranked Roosters and Eels.
The Red V however will be intent on sending out retiring co-captain Ben Creagh as a winner after he was named to start in his first game in over five months.
Will Matthews, Benji Marshall and Taane Milne have also been named in the Dragons' 17 with Drew Hutchison and the injured Tariq Sims dropping out.
The Knights welcome back winger Nathan Ross in place of rookie Cory Denniss. Korbin Sims has been named on an extended bench alongside Sam Mataora and Josh King with the Saifiti brothers named to feature in the front row.
Watch out Dragons: Ross will go extremely close to winning the Knights' Player of the Year in a couple of weeks' time. The winger returns to the sight of his NRL debut last year and will be keen to make up for lost time after missing last week due to suspension. Ross has averaged 137.8 metres and 3.7 tackle breaks this season, in one of the few shining lights for Newcastle this season.
Watch out Knights: This weekend is Marshall's final stand. Off contract at the end of the season and no chance of remaining at the Dragons, it's the veteran playmaker's final opportunity to prove himself to other NRL clubs. Marshall has had a troublesome season thus far due to an ongoing hamstring complaint but has still managed 10 try assists in 15 games.
Key match-up: Ben Creagh vs. Jeremy Smith – Former teammates and retiring warhorses, Smith and Creagh will have one final moment in the sun against one another in the NRL. Creagh hasn't played since Round 3 following back-to-back knee surgeries and will be raring to go one last time. Former Dragon Smith was farewelled at Hunter Stadium last weekend and quite appropriately will get one last hurrah at his old Kogarah haunt.
The history: Played 32; Dragons 22, Knights 10. The Dragons have enjoyed playing the Knights in recent seasons. The Red V have won 11 of their past 14 over Newcastle, dating back to 2007. They last played in Round 16 when the Dragons recorded a 30-18 win at Hunter Stadium.
What are the odds: Sportsbet has seen more money on a draw than on any other regular game, but that could be punters having a laugh given neither side has won lately. Dragons 1-12 has been well backed in the winning margin market but there's very little between them in the head-to-head market. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au.
Match officials: Referee: Henry Perenara. Assistant Referee: Matt Noyen. Sideline Officials: Jason Walsh and Adam Reid.
Televised: Fox Sports 1 – Live Coverage from 2:25pm.
The way we see it: The Knights will be desperate to end their season on a high after what's been a horror year on the field. The Dragons have their own incentives sure, but Newcastle will be hell-bent on ending their 17-game losing streak. Not only that, they'll be keen to give Knights fans a glimmer of hope heading into next season. Knights by six points.
Game on. Data off.
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