NRL Match Preview: Key match-ups v Dragons
WESTS TIGERS V ST GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
HEAD TO HEAD: Played 26 - Dragons 14, Wests Tigers 12
AT SCG: Played 1 - Dragons 1, Wests Tigers 0
LAST TIME: Round 6, 2013 - Dragons 13 defeated Wests Tigers 12
BIGGEST HEAD TO HEAD WINS:
Wests Tigers 27 defeated Dragons 8 at ANZ Stadium, 2007
Dragons 50 defeated Wests Tigers 0 at WIN Jubilee Oval, 2004
Sauaso Sue v Jack De Belin
Promising young forwards Sauaso Sue and Jack De Belin come up against each other in the battle of middle this Saturday at the SCG.
Sue returns to where it all began, making his debut at the Sydney Cricket Ground back in Round 6. Improving dramatically since that game, Sue has been a mainstay of the Wests Tigers starting pack over the past few months. Playing big minutes in the engine room this season has been tough for the rookie, but Sue has gradually adapted to the step up from Under 20s through hard work and dedication. Averaging 41 minutes per game in his 16 matches, Sues defensive efforts have been a highlight in his breakout year.
De Belin has been one of the Dragons most consistent performers this season, moving to the back of the scrum in recent weeks with an injury to Trent Merrin. In last weekends 22-18 loss to Cronulla, De Belin made 30 tackles and 11 hit-ups for 62 metres. A good friend of Wests Tigers rookie Jack Buchanan, De Belins clash with Sue is one to watch this Saturday as both Clubs sit on equal competition points.
James Tedesco v Jason Nightingale
Both James Tedesco and Jason Nightingale will come off standout games in losing sides last week, making for an exciting match-up on Saturday.
Tedesco turned in his best performance of 2013 against the Roosters on Monday night, scoring one try and setting up another. The Camden junior is a tough man for the defence to handle, shown in his 47 tackle busts (3 per game) this year. After a taste of Representative football with City very early in his career, Tedesco has had another injury-raveled season following a knee reconstruction in 2012. Picking up a shoulder injury early, followed by a fracture in his leg, Tedesco has shown toughness to play through pain since suffering the injury in Round 11.
With the Dragons suffering a last minute loss to the Sharks last weekend, winger Nightingale impressed in the losing side with 177 metres and a try. Nightingale has played all 21 matches for the Dragons this season, with the New Zealand International crossing the line nine times. Moving to fullback to cover the season-ending injury to Josh Dugan, Nightingales combination with Brett Morris is one that will need to be watched closely by the Wests Tigers right edge defence.
David Nofoaluma v Brett Morris
No doubt we will be seeing a few tries down this side of the field with both David Nofoaluma and Brett Morris having a knack of finding the line.
Since making his debut in Round 10, Nofoaluma hasnt gone longer than one game without scoring a try. An impressive strike-rate of 8 tries in just 12 games, the rookie winger will be looking to keep his record intact this week after missing out on a four-pointer against the Roosters. Nofoaluma is tied in the Wests Tigers top-tryscoring race with Tim Simona as both sit on eight a piece. Nofoalumas most impressive statistic is his tackle busts, ranked the number winger in the NRL for tackle busts per game (5.5 a match).
Another in-form outside back, Morris crossed for a double last weekend against the Sharks. With 11 line-breaks in 18 games, Morris is no doubt the Dragons go-to man. Another key part of the NSW wingers game is offloads, making 24 in 18 matches this season. Scoring in the Round 6 clash between the two sides, Morris had a big game with 159 metres. Morris will play his 150th first grade game next week against Parramatta.