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18 Nov 2017 17:42
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Make or break time for Dragons in NRL

    St George Illawarra face the prospect of dropping out of the NRL top eight for the first time this year if they lose to South Sydney on Friday night.

    - article from www.rugbyleague.co.nz

    St George Illawarra have been challenged to lay it all out in Friday's NRL clash against South Sydney as they aim to avoid dropping out of the top eight for the first time this year.

    The Dragons' shock defeat to Newcastle not only all but ended their chance of a crucial top-four finish, but left them in danger of being overtaken by ninth-placed Penrith.

    "It's time to put it on the line, that's for sure. We've come too far to get it taken away from us," coach Paul McGregor said ahead of his team's captain's run on Thursday.

    "We still as a group wanted to be in the top four.

    "Last week's loss put a dent in that, so we're not at the stage where we've got to keep winning to remain in the eight, so it's hugely important."

    McGregor is adamant his men have proven they can defy history and challenge for the title from the bottom half of the eight, if they need to.

    They've just got to get there first, avoiding being just the second team in the NRL era to miss the finals after opening the season with eight wins from their first 12 matches.

    "Obviously Melbourne are the standout team at the minute, so they're going to be hard," McGregor said.

    "But on any given day, when we play our best footy, we'll beat anyone."

    McGregor has stuck with the same side that lost to the bottom-placed Knights, with centre Euan Aitken still at least a week away due to his shoulder issue.

    For the 14th-placed Rabbitohs, who have now lost four straight, Zane Musgrove will start in place of Dave Tyrrell at the SCG.

    McGregor admits his men were on high alert for a South Sydney side that he believes could begin to chance their arm more with the finals out of reach.

    "That can happen when you play teams that haven't got much to play for, for the rest of the season, except probably spoil the opposition," McGregor said.

    "We've just got to stay with our principles and what we've been doing really well for most of the year in defence."

    STATS THAT MATTER

    * The Rabbitohs had won five straight at the SCG since 2009 but lost to the Dragons in horrendous conditions in round three last season.

    * The Dragons have scored 236 first-half points this year (second in the NRL), while the Rabbitohs have conceded 268 first-half points (first in the NRL).

    * Winning the ruck has not been an issue for Souths this season. They make the most fast play-the-balls of any team (71.5 per game), and concede the least (55.3 per game).


    NZN




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