The Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons will break tradition and meet for the first time outside of NSW in their century-long rivalry this weekend on Sunday afternoon, in a match which will no doubt be an indication of how both sides are tracking ahead of the semi-finals.
Recent History: Sydney Roosters vs St George Illawarra Dragons
The Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons will clash for the 45th time on Sunday afternoon at Clive Berghofer Stadium in Toowoomba, with the Tricolours currently holding a six-game winning streak over their opponents going back to 2018.
Of course, the Roosters and Dragons rivalry initially started in 1921 when St George entered the NSWRFL competition, with Easts winning the first encounter 23-11.
Overall, the Tricolours have a 52% winning record over their rivals since 1999, with 23 wins from 44 matches played since 1999, having won eight of the last ten contests.
The Red, White and Blue also claimed victory against the Dragons earlier this season on Anzac Day, with Sam Walker awarded the Ashton-Collier Medal in the 34-10 victory, and will be looking to claim their fifteenth victory of 2021.
Should the Roosters win this weekend, it will mark their longest-ever winning streak over any Dragons outfit, breaking the six consecutive games won between 1933 and 1936.
How They Line Up
Trent Robinson has named a similar side with few changes made following the Round 22 victory against the Brisbane Broncos.
The backline remains intact with James Tedesco named as captain and fullback, joined by wingers Daniel Tupou and Dale Copley while Joseph Manu and Adam Keighran line up in the centres.
Halves Drew Hutchison and Sam Walker reprise their role, while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves returns to the line up alongside Sam Verrills and Siosiua Taukeiaho in the front row.
Fullback for Dragons is number 1 Matthew DuftyFullback for Roosters is number 1 James Tedesco
Winger for Dragons is number 2 Mathew FeagaiWinger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel Tupou
Centre for Dragons is number 3 Jack BirdCentre for Roosters is number 3 Adam Keighran
Centre for Dragons is number 4 Zac LomaxCentre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph Manu
Winger for Dragons is number 5 Mikaele RavalawaWinger for Roosters is number 5 Dale Copley
Five-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Talatau AmoneFive-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Drew Hutchison
Halfback for Dragons is number 7 Corey NormanHalfback for Roosters is number 14 Lachlan Lam
Prop for Dragons is number 8 Kaide EllisProp for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Hooker for Dragons is number 9 Josh McGuireHooker for Roosters is number 9 Sam Verrills
Prop for Dragons is number 10 Jack De BelinProp for Roosters is number 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho
2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Billy Burns2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Nat Butcher
2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Tyrell Fuimaono2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Sitili Tupouniua
Lock for Dragons is number 13 Tariq SimsLock for Roosters is number 13 Isaac Liu
Interchange for Dragons is number 14 Jayden SullivanInterchange for Roosters is number 7 Sam Walker
Interchange for Dragons is number 15 Josh KerrInterchange for Roosters is number 15 Egan Butcher
Interchange for Dragons is number 16 Daniel AlvaroInterchange for Roosters is number 16 Fletcher Baker
Interchange for Dragons is number 17 Jackson FordInterchange for Roosters is number 17 Ben Thomas
Reserve for Dragons is number 19 Poasa FaamausiliReserve for Roosters is number 20 Brad Abbey
- Referee: Chris Sutton
- Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
- Touch Judge: Matt Noyen
- Senior Review Official: Ashley Klein
Sitili Tupouniua and Nat Butcher have been named in the second row, while Isaac Liu lines up at lock in place of Victor Radley.
Lachlan Lam, Egan Butcher and Fletcher Baker are joined by Ben Thomas on the interchange bench, while the extended bench includes Ben Marschke, Tuku Hau Tapuha, Brad Abbey and last week's debutant Naufahu Whyte.
St George Illawarra have made a number of changes to their side, with fullback Matt Dufty returning to the side and Jack Bird reverting to the centres, while Josh McGuire takes his place at hooker in for the injured Andrew McCullough.
Key Match Up: Adam Keighran vs Zac Lomax
Two goal-kicking sharpshooters will line up in the centres against one another this weekend when Adam Keighran and Zac Lomax come face-to-face on the edge.
Over the last three weeks, Keighran has found a home in the centres after coming off the bench, deputising at hooker, lock and the halves in 2021 so far.
In that period, he's been reliable with the boot with eight goals - including the match-winner last week - with a try assist and a linebreak to his name as well.
Lomax, a full-time centre and goalkicker, has posted similar numbers in that time as well, with six goals and a try assist and linebreak too.
With both sides playing in matches with close scorelines in recent weeks, don't be surprised if the kicking prowess of these two makes the difference come fulltime on Sunday.
What They Said
“I made a couple of mistakes in that game which I’d like back, but in the end, you’ve got to move on. You’ve got to do your best for the team and I’ll be bigger and better next week and learn from those mistakes." - Sam Walker
While the Dragons may be struggling since the relocation to Queensland, there are never any guaranteed victories in the NRL and the Tricolours will be certainly on their game as they take another step closer to the finals.
Tickets are still available for the match, so for those in and around Toowoomba, be sure to purchase yours here and cheer on the Red, White and Blue on Sunday afternoon!