Match Preview v Dragons
Dragons v Sea Eagles, WIN Stadium Wollongong
Kick-Off: 7:30pm, Saturday 28th March 2015
Football returns to Wollongong for the first time in 2015 as the Sea Eagles travel down to face the St George Illawarra Dragons in an important match at the WIN Stadium.
Both sides are currently sitting on one win from three matches and neither team will want to be one from four at the end of the 80 minutes.
The game is set to be a tight affair with both teams welcoming back key players to their starting squads in the hope that it will help to kick-start their season.
Manly welcome back five eighth, Kieran Foran (hamstring) and Captain, Jamie Lyon (Leg) after both players missed out last week and the former missing out on Manly’s win against the Melbourne Storm in round two.
The only notable change for the Dragons is fullback, Josh Dugan moving back into the starting squad and young centre, Euan Aitken retaining his spot after an impressive performance last week.
Dragons coach, Paul McGregor will be looking to see his halves combination of Gareth Widdop and Benji Marshall start to click, with the talented playmakers yet to full fire in 2015. Marshall still remains one of the most deadly attacking players in the game on his day, while englishman Widdop has one of the coolest heads in the game.
The clash is sure to entertain with both sides capable of the extraordinary with the ball in hand.
LAST TIME THEY MET
The Sea Eagles came out on top in a 21-12 win at Kogarah in thier only meeting in 2014. A late Cherry-Evans field goal sealed the win, in what was a very tight affair.
KEY MATCH UPS
Brett Stewart v Josh Dugan – Rugby league is experiencing a golden era of fullbacks and these two are right up there. Stewart has already done it all in the game, but again will have to hose down a rising star in Josh Dugan from making his mark on this game. No doubt the custodian will relish the challenge as the two battle for a NSW Origin spot.
Kieran Foran v Gareth Widdop – Last year the Dragons shocked everyone with a blistering start to the season and it came off the back of their England international in Widdop. This season, the Englishman has not been as influential. However, last week he showed his partnership with halfback Benji Marshal is on the rise. Foran is returning from injury and will be eager to get back to his best and a battle between these two gun players should be the price of admission alone.
Matt Ballin v Mitch Rein - Rein was back to his best last week against Canberra sneaking himself a try and bringing the game back from the death. His combatant in Sea Eagles veteran Matt Ballin has been outstanding in 2015, directing traffic and solid in defence as always.
Played: 22; Manly 8, St George Illawarra 14. Dragons have always been a bogey team for the Sea Eagles, with many Dragons fans still reminiscing of their historic come from behind win back in 2004. Manly have won the last three encounters.
Referees – Gavin Badger & Chris Sutton; Touch Judges – Jeff Younis & Lawrence McDonnell; Video Referees – Steve Chiddy & Ben Galea