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Match Preview: NRL Round 2

Dan Talintyre

Wests Tigers will look to make it back-to-back wins to start the year when they take on the St. George-Illawarra Dragons on Monday night football.

Jason Taylor’s side irked out a tough 19-18 win over the Gold Coast Titans to kick start the year at Cbus Super Stadium, and will return to Campbelltown Sports Stadium for their first home game of 2015 desperate to open the year with two wins — a feat not achieved by the Club since the start of the 2008 season and only twice since 2000.

Their opponents will be the Benji Marshall led-Dragons — a team coming off a tough 12-4 loss to the Melbourne Storm last week and now without two of their key representative personnel in fullback Josh Dugan and forward Ben Creagh. Yet with Marshall, who returns to the ground where he made his debut for the first time since leaving Wests Tigers, and Gareth Widdop in the halves, Paul McGregor’s side are certainly still capable of causing some problems.

Who will emerge with the two points this week? Read on for the full match preview including all the team news, statistical analysis, viewing information and much more!

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Match Details

Date — Monday, March 16, 2015

Time — 7:00pm (Gates open at 4:40pm)

Venue — Campbelltown Sports Stadium (Rose Payten Drive, Leumeah)

 

TV, Live Stream and Radio Information

TV — Live via Fox Sports 1, Channel 501 (check local guides)

Radio — Live via FM 104.9 Triple M Sydney, AM 702 ABC Grandstand

Live Stream — Live via Foxtel Go and NRL Digital Pass (subscription required)

 

Confirmed Squads

Wests Tigers

 

St. George-Illawarra Dragons

James Tedesco

1

Josh Dugan

Kevin Naiqama

2

Eto Nabuli

Tim Simona

3

Dane Nielsen

Chris Lawrencre

4

Dylan Farrell

Pat Richards

5

Jason Nightingale (capt.)

Mitchell Moses

6

Gareth Widdop

Luke Brooks

7

Benji Marshall

Aaron Woods

8

Leeson Ah Mau

Robbie Farah (capt.)

9

Mitch Rein

Keith Galloway

10

George Rose

Curtis Sironen

11

Tyson Frizell

Sauaso Sue

12

Joel Thompson

Martin Taupau

13

Ben Creagh

Dene Halatau

14

Rory O’Brien

Ava Seumanufagai

15

Trent Merrin

Matthew Lodge

16

Mike Cooper

Brenden Santi

17

Jack de Belin

Kyle Lovett

18/19

Jake Marketo

 

21

Heath L’Estrange

Jason Taylor

Coach

Paul McGregor

 

Chris Lawrence (groin) returns to the side at the expense of last week’s debutant, Kyle Lovett, who moves back to an extended bench. Martin Taupau has been named at lock in the only other change to last week, pushing Dene Halatau to the interchange bench. For the Dragons, both Josh Dugan and Ben Creagh have been ruled out of the match, despite being named earlier in the week. Kiwi international Jason Nightingale will take over the captaincy duties from Creagh, whose replacements at both fullback and lock are still yet to be decided. Jake Marketo and Heath L’Estrange have been named on a six-man bench.

 

2015 Recent Results

Wests Tigers

R1 — Wests Tigers 19 def. Gold Coast Titans 18

 

St. George-Illawarra Dragons

R1 — Melbourne Storm 12 def. St. George-Illawarra Dragons 4

 

Match History

·      Against St. George-Illawarra — Played 31, Won 13, Lost 16, Drawn 2

·      At Campbelltown Sports Stadium — Played 2, Won 0, Lost 2

 

Coach’s Comment

“I thought the guys defended really well last week and showed some glimpses in attack, so we’re looking to improve on that. The Dragons threw plenty at the Storm last week so we’ll need to be good defensively again. For us, we’re just continuing to develop what we’re doing. That game won’t change anything for us; we’ll just keep working hard at the things we’ve been working on and continuing to improve them this weekend…” — Jason Taylor, NRL Head Coach

 

Three Key Facts

  • Wests Tigers haven’t won back-to-back games to start the year since 2008
  • The Dragons have never lost a match at Campbelltown Sports Stadium
  • Wests Tigers have won just two of their last 11 Monday night matches

 

Key Matchup to Watch — Luke Brooks vs. Benji Marshall

In a whirlwind 18 months that has included an NRL debut, Dally M Rookie of the Year Award and an NRL All Stars appearance, Luke Brooks will look to record another accomplishment this Monday night at Campbelltown Sports Stadium – a win against his childhood hero and former teammate Benji Marshall.

Marshall returns to the ground where he made his NRL debut in 2003 for the first time in rival colours. Coming up against plenty of his close friends in this match, the Wests Tigers Life Member will be determined to lead the Dragons to their first win of the year after a disappointing start for his side against Melbourne.

Marshall lined up alongside Brooks during his NRL debut in 2013, which was ironically against St. George Illawarra, a game where the rookie half turned in a dominant man-of-the-match display. Monday’s game will be the second time the pair have met on an NRL stage, with Brooks out to make amends for a 28-12 defeat in Round 20 last year. Look out for fellow halves Mitchell Moses and Gareth Widdop to also have a high involvement on Monday night also.

 

2015 Key Player Stats

 

Wests Tigers

St. George-Illawarra Dragons

Most points

Pat Richards (15 points)

Eto Nabuli (4 points)

Most hit-ups

Aaron Woods (16 hit-ups)

Trent Merrin (15 hit-ups)

Most metres

Aaron Woods (206m)

Jason Nightingale (186m)

Most tackles

Robbie Farah (39 tackles)

Mitch Rein (47 tackles)