Holden Cup preview: Dragons v Sea Eagles
Holden Cup Preliminary Final: St George Illawarra Dragons v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
And then there were four.
It's been an incredible year in the Holden Cup and a place in the grand final awaits the winner of the clash between the well-rested Dragons and the battle-hardened Sea Eagles.
The Dragons will be out to break a curse on Saturday afternoon that has seen them lose all five preliminary finals that they've been a part of. They've been hot and cold at times this year but an impressive defensive effort against the Panthers a fortnight ago has them primed for this blockbuster clash.
Manly might have lost both of their matches against the Red V in the regular season but they come into this clash in white-hot form after back-to-back upset wins over the Cowboys and the Sharks.
St George Illawarra will be without gun fullback Zac Lomax (Schoolboys duty) with Steven Marsters shifting from the wing into the No.1 jersey. It's better news for the Sea Eagles who welcome back Jesse Martin from a two-game suspension.
Why the Dragons can win: There are a number of talented hookers in the NYC but one who has probably gone a bit under the radar in 2017 is Reece Robson. The workhorse No.9 started the year with a bang and was a big reason why the Red V were able to get on a roll to shoot up the ladder. Robson was the starting hooker for both the Junior Kangaroos and Blues – he scored a double in the green and gold jersey – before he was promoted to the Illawarra squad in the Intrust Super Premiership. He came back to the NYC for the final two rounds of the regular season and starred with 130 metres and 51 tackles in the qualifying final win over Penrith.
Why the Sea Eagles can win: He stole the show against Cronulla and you can bet your bottom dollar that Tom Wright will be the key man once again on Saturday afternoon. The rugby convert has been a weapon this season with 18 tries and 11 assists and has torn most defensive lines to shreds with his speed and footwork. His ability to create something out of nothing was on full show last week with two of his three tries coming from one-on-one strips. If he's given room to move then the Dragons will be in for very long afternoon.
Televised: Fox Sports 2 – live coverage from 2:25pm.
NRL.com predicts: Sea Eagles by 4.