NYC PREVIEW | Sharks v Dragons
Despite the Dragons lowly position on the NYC ladder the Sharks are under no illusion as to the task at hand on Sunday as they look to register a win that will help them keep pace with the top eight.
The Dragons may be sitting at the bottom of the table, with the Sharks 11th and just one point outside the eight, however some improved form of late will have the home team wary of a St George Illawarra side that will arrive at Remondis Stadium looking for an upset.
While the Sharks were fighting out a 22-all draw against Manly last weekend their opponents this Sunday went within a whisker of beating the second-placed Cowboys, the Dragons squandering a 12-point second-half lead before going down by 30-24.
The Dragons were again led by speedy fullback Matt Dufty, back-rower Ryan James was said to be the best player on the ground in the losing effort, while they will again rely heavily on props Hame Sele, Jack Kavanagh and highly-rated back-rower Jacob Host.
However should they have aspirations of playing finals football during September, the Sharks will need to get the better of the Dragons in a bid to stay in touch with the playoff contenders.
After a solid performance in his first game in an unfamiliar position, Daniel Liddicoat has been retained in the centres, where his partnership with powerful winger Semisi Vea is sure to give the Dragons plenty of headaches.
Ball-playing Sharks lock Billy Magoulias, having been promoted to the NYC after a successful season in the national championship winning SG Ball side, will be looking to have an impact on Sunday’s game, with his under-18’s teammate Jesse Savage chosen on an extended interchange bench and in line to make his Holden Cup debut against St George.
Hailing from Queensland, Savage is a hard-running back-rower who enjoyed an outstanding SG Ball season for the Sharks.
Coach James Shepherd will need to trim his 19-man squad back to 17 prior to kick-off on Sunday.
The two teams have already met once in the NYC in 2015, with the Sharks scoring a 30-24 victory in the match played at Kogarah Jubilee Oval back in round 12.
The NYC match is scheduled for a 1.45pm kick-off on Sunday, with gates to Remondis Stadium to open at 1.30pm.