St George Illawarra are taking solace in their dramatic turnaround in form early last year as they seek to boost their NRL season after a sluggish start.
Melbourne were too good for the Dragons in round one, winning 18-16, and last weekend the joint venture were thumped 30-2 by Cronulla.
The tune is a familiar one for Dragons fans. The Red V struggled to score points early in 2015, going down 12-4 to Melbourne in the opening round before falling 22-4 to Wests Tigers. They were down 18-0 at halftime against Canberra in round three before prevailing 22-20 and turning their season around on the way to an unexpected finals berth.
Marshall said the Dragons will draw on that experience ahead of Sunday’s round three clash against South Sydney at the SCG.
“This time last year we were in the same position, we were down 18-0 at halftime and we came out and found our identity that season, which was our defence,” Marshall said.
“We have been down in that area over the first two rounds so this is a chance for us to test ourselves against a great forward pack and a team that has been the form team probably over the first two rounds.”
Marshall said a key focus for the Dragons would be improving their ball handling, after a glut of errors against the Sharks.
The premiership-winning playmaker has taken it upon himself to get the Dragons attack revved up heading into round three in seeking to take on the defensive line.
“That has been my focus for the season,” he said.
“I think over the first two rounds I have run the ball twice as much as I have last year, now it is about taking opportunities.
“From my point of view when I was younger my strength was a running game and sometimes when you get told you are a ball player you turn into that. I think it is about taking the line on a bit more and I will definitely be doing that.”
Josh Dugan has returned to fullback and is expected to play despite suffering a hamstring injury against the Sharks. Kurt Mann is sidelined with an ankle injury. Euan Aitken has moved into the centres.
South Sydney have started the season as arguably the premiership’s form side after big wins over Sydney Roosters and Newcastle. They have named an unchanged 17.
The Dragons have taken the match to the SCG to commemorate 50 years since St George’s 1966 NSWRFL grand final win over Balmain, the last of their 11 successive premierships.
* These sides have met three times at the SCG with three wins a-piece, however the Rabbitohs have won seven of the last eight clashes at all venues
* Benji Marshall has lost his past eight matches against the Rabbitohs, but he has been the main attacking weapon for the Dragons this season involved in three of their four line breaks (two line breaks, one line break assist) as well as being involved in two of their three tries (one try, one try assist)
* Going back to last season the Dragons have won just four of their past 16 matches
Source: Fox Sports Stats