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15 Dec 2017 13:33
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Red V keen to match output with points

    St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has had no complaints about his side's effort in their three consecutive NRL losses.

    - article from www.rugbyleague.co.nz

    Both the Warriors and St George Illawarra head into their NRL clash in Hamilton on Friday with monkeys to shake off their backs.

    But one side clearly has more to prove than the other.

    While the Red V will look to arrest a three-game NRL losing streak in the Waikato, the Warriors have had their mental fortitude questioned on both sides of the ditch after a second-half capitulation to the Panthers in western Sydney.

    The Dragons have had no such barbs thrown their way, as they defy pre-season expectations to sit comfortably in the top eight after 10 rounds.

    But head coach Paul McGregor, despite being convinced of his side's self-belief, wants that losing streak broken - and he wants it broken now.

    "We've got a team coming off a big second-half collapse last week, so we know they're going to come out with a good attitude," McGregor said.

    "We've just got to match that and better it."

    Driving the Dragons' positive early-season form is their forward pack, particularly hard-running props Russell Packer and Paul Vaughan.

    The burly pair have made more than 2500 running metres combined, ably assisted by the likes of Jack de Belin, Joel Thompson and skipper Tyson Frizell.

    It was a fact not lost on Warriors prop Ben Matulino, who helped spearhead his side's 2011 NRL grand final tilt alongside compatriot Packer.

    "Talking to Russell, they've had a massive pre-season, they're a lot fitter than last year and that's won them a lot of games," Matulino told reporters.

    "Paul Vaughan, (he's) probably signing of the year - I've watched their games and he's brought a lot of energy to that team and he's working pretty hard with Russell.

    "We've got to aim up and match them."

    The Dragons have lost centre Euan Aitken to a hamstring niggle for the match on Kiwi soil, joining stars Gareth Widdop and Josh Dugan on the sidelines.

    Yet McGregor refused to use that as an excuse - even with the all-Kiwi spine of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Shaun Johnson, Kieran Foran and Issac Luke on the other side.

    "You look at their spine, all international, got some tough forwards and experienced back rowers and big speedy backs," McGregor said.

    "The task won't be easy and certainly a lot has been said about them this week.

    "In saying that, they've got to play a competent footy side in us."


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