4.10pm Sunday April 1, 2018, at WIN Stadium
THE ladder leading Dragons have gone from strength to strength to start the season and they look set to make it four from four when they head to WIN Stadium this Sunday to face off against the Newcastle Knights.
St George Illawarra have been priced at a skinny $1.34 to triumph on Sunday, with the Knights the clear outsiders at $3.40 with Sportsbet.
The Dragons just need to keep up the momentum to win this week. They head into the fourth round as one of just two undefeated teams, the other being the NZ Warriors, and they are on the back of their biggest marginal win for 13 seasons after thrashing the Gold Coast Titans 54-8 last week.
But Paul McGregor’s men can’t go into the match complacent as Blind Freddie can see the 2018 Knights are a completely different outfit than the wooden spooners we have seen in years gone by.
The boys in red and blue won their first two games, albeit narrowly, against Manly and the Raiders, and they look much more potent both in offence and defence this year.
Comparatively, the Dragons stats for the year look stronger on paper. The red v has averaged 36 points in attack thus far this season, while the Knights have conceded 28 points and have an average of 19 points in their attack after three rounds.
Players to watch – Dragons v Knights
Dragons – Matt Dufty: Affirmed his position in the spine of the team with a hat-trick of tries against the Titans last week. A Dragons Junior, who played just seven NRL games in 2017, the young gun has been working seamlessly alongside hooker Cameron McInnes and halves Gareth Widdop and Ben Hunt and looks primed for another big game this week.
Knights – Kalyn Ponga: There were plenty of critics when the teenager signed a multi-million-dollar deal with the Knights, but so far they have been silenced by his brilliant ball handling, quick thinking and some stellar tries and try assists. No doubt he will be their go to guy again this week as his relationship beside Mitchell Pearce strengthens, but the Dragons are sure to know this which means he is a likely target.
1 Matthew Dufty, 2 Nene Macdonald, 3 Euan Aitken, 4 Tim Lafai, 5 Jason Nightingale, 6 Gareth Widdop (c), 7 Ben Hunt, 8 James Graham, 9 Cameron McInnes, 10 Paul Vaughan, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Tariq Sims, 13 Jack De Belin
Interchange: 14 Luciano Leilua, 15 Kurt Mann, 16 Leeson Ah Mau, 17 Hame Sele
Reserves: 18 Jeremy Latimore, 19 Zachary Lomax, 20 Jacob Host, 21 Blake Lawrie
1 Kalyn Ponga, 2 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 3 Sione Mata’utia, 4 Tautau Moga, 5 Nathan Ross, 6 Brock Lamb, 7 Mitchell Pearce (c), 8 Herman Ese’ese, 9 Slade Griffin, 10 Jacob Lillyman, 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12 Aidan Guerra, 13 Mitchell Barnett
Interchange: 14 Jamie Buhrer (c), 15 Chris Heighington, 16 Jacob Saifiti, 17 Daniel Saifiti
Reserves: 18 Ken Sio, 19 Jack Cogger, 20 Danny Levi, 21 Luke Yates
Dragons v Knights – who will win?
It pains me as a die-hard Knights fan, but the Dragons look to have the edge in this match.
We don’t think it will be as easy as their win against the Titans, but at the 80-minute siren we reckon they’ll have their nose in front.