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St George Illawarra's finals hopes are on life support after a four-game losing streak and things don't get any easier this week when they confront a Penrith side slowly rediscovering their mojo.

The 11th-placed Dragons haven't won since Paul Vaughan's barbecue and while the guilty parties have now served their suspensions having all those players back on deck is unlikely to be enough to turn things around.

Anthony Griffin's side have a tough run home and would have to produce one of the great form reversals of all time to make the eight given they are now two points adrift of the three-way tie for the final two finals spots.

Penrith won't be conceding the minor premiership just yet but their immediate focus will be keeping their nose in front of South Sydney who are relegated to third only by points differential.

The two sides meet in round 23 so the Panthers will be keen to take care of business against St George Illawarra and head into that vital clash on even terms with the Rabbitohs. 

The rundown

Team news

Dragons: St George Illawarra will start 1-17 with Matt Dufty the 18th man.

All players have now served their bans for biosecurity breaches arising from the gathering at Paul Vaughan's home in July.

Gerard Beale comes into the centres in place of Cody Ramsey, who required dental surgery after a collision with teammate Andrew McCullough last weekend.

Poasa Faamausili and Jayden Sullivan were the first two players cut from the squad 24 hours before kick-off.

Dragons winger Mikaele Ravalawa has scored seven tries in five games at Suncorp Stadium.

Panthers: Nathan Cleary is back for the Panthers, prompting a major reshuffle. Stephen Crichton moves to the wing and Matt Burton into the centres.  

Api Koroisau was found guilty at the judiciary on a contrary conduct charge and has been suspended for one game with Mitch Kenny named to start in his place. Jaeman Salmon has joined the bench and Taylan May will be the 18th man.

Charlie Staines dropped out of the team on Thursday. New recruit Tevita Pangai jnr took leave last week for personal reasons and will not make his club debut this week. He came out of the squad 24 hours before kick-off along with Staines.

Paul Momirovski (HIA) and Brent Naden (hamstring) got through a final training run on Thursday and will play.

The Panthers have won their past three games against the Dragons.

Team Lists


  • Fullback for Dragons is number 1 Jack Bird
    Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
  • Winger for Dragons is number 2 Mathew Feagai
    Winger for Panthers is number 3 Stephen Crichton
  • Centre for Dragons is number 3 Gerard Beale
    Centre for Panthers is number 4 Paul Momirovski
  • Centre for Dragons is number 4 Zac Lomax
    Centre for Panthers is number 6 Matt Burton
  • Winger for Dragons is number 5 Mikaele Ravalawa
    Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brent Naden
  • Five-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Corey Norman
    Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 21 Nathan Cleary
  • Halfback for Dragons is number 7 Adam Clune
    Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Jarome Luai


  • Prop for Dragons is number 8 Blake Lawrie
    Prop for Panthers is number 8 Moses Leota
  • Hooker for Dragons is number 9 Andrew McCullough
    Hooker for Panthers is number 14 Mitch Kenny
  • Prop for Dragons is number 10 Josh McGuire
    Prop for Panthers is number 10 Matthew Eisenhuth
  • 2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Billy Burns
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
  • 2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Tyrell Fuimaono
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin
  • Lock for Dragons is number 13 Jack De Belin
    Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo


  • Interchange for Dragons is number 14 Talatau Amone
    Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Scott Sorensen
  • Interchange for Dragons is number 15 Jackson Ford
    Interchange for Panthers is number 16 J'maine Hopgood
  • Interchange for Dragons is number 16 Josh Kerr
    Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Izack Tago
  • Interchange for Dragons is number 17 Kaide Ellis
    Interchange for Panthers is number 19 Jaeman Salmon


  • Reserve for Dragons is number 18 Matt Dufty
    Reserve for Panthers is number 20 Taylan May

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ben Cummins
  • Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
  • Touch Judge: Belinda Sharpe
  • Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall

Last updated:

Key match-up

Adam Clune v Jarome Luai: Standing in for your side's best player is daunting a the best of times but the degree of difficulty increases for Adam Clune who must  get the better Blues playmaker Jarome Luai if the Dragons are to have any hope of springing an upset. Luai also has something to prove having seen his form dip in the absence of Penrtih and NSW partner in crime Nathan Cleary but his pedigree and early season form suggest a big game is likely to be lurking just around the corner.  

Stat attack

Both sides' kickers will have to be on their toes because St George Illawarra and Penrith have proven themselves the class of the competition when it comes to charge-downs. The Dragons are No.1 with nine while the Panthers are a clear No.2 with seven. Viliame Kikau is tied for the individual lead with three alongside Tariq Sims, who won't be around to hound the Panthers kickers as he serves a suspension. No doubt the likes of Blake Lawrie and Jack de Belin will be deployed to take over Sims' role as chief harasser.


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