The first of today’s Anzac day NRL Round 7 matches is between Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons. The opening kick is set to commence at 4pm AEST with the game being played in Sydney at Allianz Stadium where the home team the Roosters are the current favourites for the match and have been well supported. View our match preview and teams for the game between Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons.
WHERE AND WHEN: Allianz Stadium, Thursday @ 1600
Anthony Minichiello (c), Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Sam Moa, Mitchell Aubusson, Sonny Bill Williams, Boyd Cordner Interchange: Daniel Mortimer, Martin Kennedy, Aidan Guerra, Luke O’Donnell.
St George Illawarra Dragons:
Jason Nightingale, Brett Morris, Chase Stanley, Matt Cooper, Matt Cooper, Jamie Soward, Nathan Fien, Dan Hunt, Mitch Rein, Jack Stockwell, Tyson Frizell, Ben Creagh (c), Trent Merrin
Interchange: Bronson Harrison, Matt Prior, Jack de Belin, Damien Cook, Michael Weyman (one to be omitted).
Anzac day match to start resurgence for Dragons
St George Illawarra veteran Nathan Fien admits the Dragons face an Anzac Day moment of truth – with the Sydney Roosters clash to determine the bona fides of their NRL resurgence.
After starting the season 0-3 to be labelled 100-1 title contenders by bookmakers, the Dragons have recovered to win three straight games.
But without disrespect to Cronulla, Newcastle and Wests Tigers, the Roosters before a packed Allianz Stadium is a different beast.
“For us, it’s a big test – it’s probably our biggest test this year,” Fien said.
“It will definitely give us a true indication of where we are at.
“It’s probably fallen at a good time for us … we’ve found a bit of form over the past few weeks.
“But what we’ve done over the past three weeks doesn’t guarantee anything on Thursday.”
Veteran Fien – along with halves partner Jamie Soward – copped the brunt of criticism over the slow start to the year, in particular over the side’s misfiring attack.
The Dragons tinkered with a few game plans in an attempt to right the ship.
But the biggest difference between now and then?
“Winning,” said Fien.
“The last three weeks we’ve been winning and we’ve been getting the pats on the back, me and Sowie.
“But to be honest, I don’t think that we’ve played that differently (from the opening three rounds).
“It’s just that we’re getting the wins now.
“That’s how footy goes – it’s cut-throat, it’s results based.”
Which is why the Anzac Day match could not have come at a better time for a Dragons side which has won the past five clashes on the public holiday.
The Roosters can’t claim they’re not prepared to play on the big stage, having already been involved in two blockbuster clashes over the opening six rounds.
Caught off guard in a season-opening loss to South Sydney, the Roosters responded in the much-hyped clash with Canterbury in their last start, when Sonny Bill Williams played against his former club for the first time.
Williams, who is expected to overcome a knee injury which kept him out of last week’s Test match, will be playing his first Anzac Day match – a game skipper Anthony Minichiello admits is no ordinary fixture.
“It’s definitely got a finals feel about it,” Minichiello said.
“It’s early in the season but the build-up is big – it’s an emotional day for Australia and the Kiwis.
“It brings out the best in both the sides.”
With both teams in form and fine weather forecast, officials are expecting a crowd in excess of 30,000 for the game.