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Preview: Storm v Dragons

At the halfway mark of the competition St George Illawarra held a three-point lead over the rest of the field.
Preview: Storm v Dragons
by NRL

At the halfway mark of the competition St George Illawarra held a three-point lead over the rest of the field. Three months down the track, Melbourne have taken up the running at the top of the leaderboard, with a four-point advantage over the field and an 11-point lead over the Dragons.

It is an illustration of just how far the premiers have fallen over the second half of the season. They appear an outfit stripped of all confidence and bent out of shape in frustration at their inability to produce the football that carried them to glory in 2010. There was no semblance of rhythm or teamwork against the Roosters last Sunday and pet plays that previous brought a flood of tries fell to pieces through hesitation and poor timing.

But the one factor that cannot be overlooked is that coach Wayne Bennett was in an almost identical situation with the Broncos in 2006 and his team emerged to win the title.

The recovery needs to start this week for the Dragons and an ankle injury to Storm halfback Cooper Cronk could be just the break that St George Illawarra need.

Englishman Gareth Widdop will fill the halfback role for the Storm with Maurice Blair to slot in at five-eighth.

Take a Storm try as First Scoring Play and consider a Storm/Dragons or Dragons/Storm outcome in the Half/Full Double.

First Tryscoring chances include Billy Slater, Anthony Quinn and Gareth Widdop for the Storm or Matt Cooper or Jason Nightingale for the Dragons.

Melbourne v St George Illawarra
AAMI Park
Friday night 7.35pm


Melbourne Storm
1 Billy Slater, 2 Sisa Waqa, 3 Dane Nielsen, 4 Beau Champion, 5 Anthony Quinn, 6 Maurice Blair, 7 Gareth Widdop, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith [c], 10 Bryan Norrie, 11 Adam Blair, 12 Sika Manu, 13 Kevin Proctor. Subs: 14 Rory Kostjasyn, 15 Ryan Hinchcliffe, 16 Troy Thompson, 17 Jaiman Lowe.

St George Illawarra Dragons
1 Darius Boyd, 2 TBA, 18 Kyle Stanley , 4 Matt Cooper , 5 Jason Nightingale, 6 Jamie Soward, 7 Ben Hornby [c], 8 Dan Hunt, 9 Nathan Fien , 10 Michael Weyman, 11 Beau Scott, 12 Ben Creagh, 13 Matt Prior. Subs: 14 Jon Green, 15 Trent Merrin, 16 Adam Cuthbertson, 17 Dean Young.

Prediction - Matthew O'Neill: Dragons by 4

OVERALL:
Total Games: 24
Melbourne Storm wins: 17. [Pts: 574]
St George Illawarra Dragons wins: 6. [Pts: 442]
Draws: 1

Biggest wins:
Melbourne Storm: 60 pts: 2000 National Rugby League - Round 5 - [View] Fri Mar 3: Storm 70 d. Dragons 10 [Crowd: 23239]
St George Illawarra Dragons: 46 pts: 2000 National Rugby League - Round 18 - [View] Sun Jun 4: Dragons 50 d. Storm 4 [Crowd: 10141]

Biggest Crowd: 1999 National Rugby League - Grand Final - [View] Sun Sep 26: Storm 20 d. Dragons 18 [Crowd: 107558]

Last 50 games against each other form line (most recent matches at end of line):
Melbourne Storm: LLWWLWWWDWWLWWWWWWWLWWLW
St George Illawarra Dragons: WWLLWLLLDLLWLLLLLLLWLLWL

Last 10 games:
2010 NRL Telstra Premiership - Round 4 - [View] Fri: Melbourne Storm 17 d. St.George-Illawarra Dragons 4 [Crowd: 25480]
2009 NRL Telstra Premiership - Round 21 - [View] Fri: St George Illawarra Dragons 26 d. Melbourne Storm 12 [Crowd: 16474]
2009 NRL Telstra Premiership - Round 1 - [View] Fri: Melbourne Storm 17 d. St George Illawarra Dragons 16 [Crowd: 14870]
2008 NRL Telstra Premiership - Round 19 - [View] Mon: Melbourne Storm 26 d. St.George-Illawarra Dragons 0 [Crowd: 9335]
2008 NRL Telstra Premiership - Round 10 - [View] Sat: St George Illawarra Dragons 36 d. Melbourne Storm 12 [Crowd: 6881]
2007 NRL Telstra Premiership - Round 15 - [View] Sun: Melbourne Storm 28 d. St.George-Illawarra Dragons 6 [Crowd: 13545]
2007 NRL Telstra Premiership - Round 5 - [View] Sat: St.George-Illawarra Dragons 10 l. Melbourne Storm 24 [Crowd: 9011]
2006 NRL Telstra Premiership - Finals Week Three - [View] Sat: Melbourne Storm 24 d. St.George-Illawarra Dragons 10 [Crowd: 40901]
2006 NRL Telstra Premiership - Round 21 - [View] Sun: Dragons 24 l. Storm 34 [Crowd: 13866]
2006 NRL Telstra Premiership - Round 8 - [View] Sat: Storm 24 d. Dragons 10 [Crowd: 8692]

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