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Dragons v Titans: Norman out, mass changes; Fifita to bench

This game looms as a golden opportunity for one of these clubs to right the ship after both endured a week to forget last round.

The Dragons are still reeling from (and feeling the effects of) a biosecurity breach that resulted in 12 players receiving suspensions, on top of last week's humbling 32-18 loss to a Manly side missing Tom Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans.

The Titans, meanwhile, have lost four of their past five games, including a 26-8 thumping at the hands of Parramatta last Friday. 

Yet both clubs remain in top-eight contention, and victory here could be a springboard towards better days ahead in the race towards the finals.

The rundown

Team news

Dragons: St George Illawarra will start 1-17 with Kaide Ellis the 18th man.

Corey Norman has been tabbed to serve his COVID breach suspension with rookie Jayden Sullivan taking over five-eighth duties for his first start of the season.

Matt Dufty, Tyrell Fuimaono and Kaide Ellis return after serving their bans against Manly.

Mathew Feagai (ankle) returns from injury for his first game since debuting in round nine and Brayden Wiliame drops out of the squad. 

Billy Burns and Tyrell Sloan were trimmed from the extended bench 24 hours before kick-off.

Dragons centre Jack Bird will make his 100th NRL appearance.

Titans: In a positional change announced an hour before kick-off, David Fifita will start on the interchange bench, with Beau Fermor now in the run-on side.

Apart from that they are 1-17, with Esan Marsters the 18th man.

There are no further changes expected for Justin Holbrook's side who remain in the race for a top-eight finish.

Rookie halfback Toby Sexton has been named to make his debut in place of Titans skipper Jamal Fogarty (hand) while Greg Marzhew returns from the casualty ward to take Phil Sami's spot on the wing.

Veteran dummy-half Mitch Rein steps in for Erin Clark who suffered an elbow injury in the heavy defeat to Parramatta.

Origin prop Moeaki Fotuaika wins back his starting spot which sees Jaimin Jolliffe return to the interchange. 

Tanah Boyd and Jayden Campbell were omitted from the reserves list on Saturday.

Titans second-rower David Fifita has scored 10 tries in his past six games at Cbus Super Stadium.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Dragons is number 1 Matthew Dufty
    Fullback for Titans is number 1 Alexander Brimson
  • Winger for Dragons is number 2 Jordan Pereira
    Winger for Titans is number 2 Greg Marzhew
  • Centre for Dragons is number 3 Gerard Beale
    Centre for Titans is number 3 Brian Kelly
  • Centre for Dragons is number 4 Cody Ramsey
    Centre for Titans is number 4 Patrick Herbert
  • Winger for Dragons is number 5 Mathew Feagai
    Winger for Titans is number 5 Corey Thompson
  • Five-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Jayden Sullivan
    Five-Eighth for Titans is number 6 Ashley Taylor
  • Halfback for Dragons is number 7 Ben Hunt
    Halfback for Titans is number 7 Toby Sexton

Forwards

  • Prop for Dragons is number 8 Blake Lawrie
    Prop for Titans is number 8 Jarrod Wallace
  • Hooker for Dragons is number 9 Andrew McCullough
    Hooker for Titans is number 9 Mitch Rein
  • Prop for Dragons is number 10 Josh Kerr
    Prop for Titans is number 10 Moeaki Fotuaika
  • 2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Jack Bird
    2nd Row for Titans is number 11 Kevin Proctor
  • 2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Tariq Sims
    2nd Row for Titans is number 17 Beau Fermor
  • Lock for Dragons is number 13 Josh McGuire
    Lock for Titans is number 13 Tino Fa'asuamaleaui

Interchange

  • Interchange for Dragons is number 14 Adam Clune
    Interchange for Titans is number 12 David Fifita
  • Interchange for Dragons is number 15 Tyrell Fuimaono
    Interchange for Titans is number 14 Tyrone Peachey
  • Interchange for Dragons is number 16 Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
    Interchange for Titans is number 15 Sam Lisone
  • Interchange for Dragons is number 17 Jack De Belin
    Interchange for Titans is number 16 Jaimin Jolliffe

Reserves

  • Reserve for Dragons is number 18 Kaide Ellis
    Reserve for Titans is number 18 Esan Marsters

Match Officials

  • Referee: Grant Atkins
  • Touch Judge: Kasey Badger
  • Touch Judge: Matt Noyen
  • Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy

Last updated:

Key match-up

David Fifita v Tariq Sims: Fifita has had a rollercoaster season in his first year as a Titan, scoring nine tries in his first seven games – an astounding run for a forward – before a dip in form that led to him spending time on the bench in both his past two Titans games (he still scored tries in each).

Sims, meanwhile, made the most of a surprise selection in the NSW starting side for Origin I with a standout performance, and looms as a key man for the Dragons in the run home. Whichever edge back-rower makes a bigger impact here could swing the tide of this contest.

Stat attack

While David Fifita may have had his issues in defence this season there's no denying his impact in attack. His 115 tackle breaks in 14 games is by far and away the most in the league, and his average of 8.2 per game has been matched just once by any player in the past seven seasons (by James Tedesco in his Dally M-winning 2017 campaign). 

 

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