Dragons v Bulldogs: McGregor makes late changes
Paul McGregor's Dragons are looking to consolidate a top four spot in the Telstra Premiership two rounds out from the finals, while the Bulldogs won plenty of admirers after shocking the Warriors last start at ANZ Stadium.
Canterbury have now surprised the Wests Tigers, Broncos and Warriors in the last month, while St George Illawarra snapped a three-game losing streak with last week's win.
The Red V faithful will be out in force at Kogarah, as prop James Graham chases his second victory of 2018 against his former employer.
The Dragons will wear black armbands in honour of former second-rower Lance Thompson, who died on Thursday night.
Match: Dragons v Bulldogs
Round 24 -
Venue: Jubilee Oval
- Nine Network
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Key match up: Jack de Belin v Adam Elliott. The Dragons lock has been an ironman this year, with 21 club appearances as well as three games for the NSW Blues. His opposite this weekend Elliott shifted between the interchange bench and back-row until he was handed the number 13 jersey in round 14. He quickly made the position his own and has arguably been his team's best player in what has been a very testing season at Belmore.
For the Dragons to win: Fire up Tyson Frizell. With Paul Vaughan out, 'Friz' has shifted to prop and has been outstanding in the engine room. His barnstorming try last Saturday night sealed the result against the Wests Tigers and his tussle against Canterbury hard man Dave Klemmer will be a beauty.
For the Bulldogs to win: Feed Lachlan Lewis. The young pivot was brilliant against the Warriors, scoring a try before slotting a match-winning field goal at the death. Lewis needed to step up once Kieran Foran was ruled out for the year with a toe injury, and will definitely be an important figure as the club enters a rebuilding stage.
Dragons Stat Attack: The Red V are the competition yardstick when it comes to tackle breaks (817). They also the front-runners in all runs category (3835) narrowly ahead of the Bulldogs (3833) and Panthers (3805). Hooker Cameron McInnes comfortably leads the all receipts standings (2402).
Bulldogs Stat Attack: Canterbury have the best set completion in the NRL, tied with the Broncos, Tigers and Knights (79%). Dean Pay's men have accumulated the most post contact metres (11,542) and the equal top kicking conversion rate (86%).
And another thing: After breaking a three-game losing streak last Saturday night at Leichhardt Oval, the Dragons are now eyeing off a top four finish. If they beat the Bulldogs and Knights, two chances in the semi-finals await. The Bulldogs are still in the mix for the wooden spoon, but they will fancy their chances of causing an upset, especially with gun St George Illawarra playmaker Gareth Widdop sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Fullback for Dragons is number 5 Jason NightingaleFullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Will Hopoate
Winger for Dragons is number 15 Jordan PereiraWinger for Bulldogs is number 2 Brett Morris
Centre for Dragons is number 3 Euan AitkenCentre for Bulldogs is number 3 Josh Morris
Centre for Dragons is number 4 Timoteo LafaiCentre for Bulldogs is number 4 Kerrod Holland
Winger for Dragons is number 2 Nene MacdonaldWinger for Bulldogs is number 5 Reimis Smith
Five-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Kurt MannFive-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Lachlan Lewis
Halfback for Dragons is number 7 Ben HuntHalfback for Bulldogs is number 7 Matt Frawley
Prop for Dragons is number 8 James GrahamProp for Bulldogs is number 8 Aiden Tolman
Hooker for Dragons is number 9 Cameron McInnesHooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Michael Lichaa
Prop for Dragons is number 11 Tyson FrizellProp for Bulldogs is number 10 David Klemmer
2nd Row for Dragons is number 17 Luciano Leilua2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Josh Jackson
2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Tariq Sims2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Rhyse Martin
Lock for Dragons is number 13 Jack de BelinLock for Bulldogs is number 13 Adam Elliott
Interchange for Dragons is number 1 Matthew DuftyInterchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Jeremy Marshall-King
Interchange for Dragons is number 10 Leeson Ah MauInterchange for Bulldogs is number 15 Danny Fualalo
Interchange for Dragons is number 14 Jeremy LatimoreInterchange for Bulldogs is number 16 Ofahiki Ogden
Interchange for Dragons is number 21 Jacob HostInterchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Greg Eastwood
Dragons: Veteran winger Jason Nightingale has been shifted to fullback with Jordan Pereira elevated on the bench and Jai Field dropping out. Matt Dufty is back on the interchange. A forward reshuffle has sent Leeson Ah Mau back to the bench, Luciano Leilua is starting in the second row and Tyson Frizell moves to prop from the back row. Jacob Host and Blake Lawrie were omitted an hour before kick-off.
Bulldogs: No changes for Canterbury as Lachlan Lewis continues to manage an ongoing ankle concern that is not serious enough to keep him out of their final two games. Francis Tualau and Fa'amanu Brown dropped of the reserves list 24 hours before kick-off. Francis Tualau and Fa'amanu Brown were omitted an hour before kick-off.
Head-to-head: Played 35; Bulldogs 23 wins, Dragons 12 wins
Previous result: Dragons won 18-16 in round 14
Points per game: Dragons 22.5; Bulldogs 16.9
Points conceded per game: Dragons 19.1; Bulldogs 20.2
Televised: Live on Nine, Fox League
Petero Civoniceva's prediction: With so much at stake the Dragons answered the challenge at Leichhardt and that win will have given them a big boost. Playing at Kogarah is a massive advantage and there is sure to be a big crowd on hand with the finals just around the corner. The Bullogs are finishing hard and have uncovered some great young talent but the Dragons will be a shade too good.
Tip: Dragons by 8.