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Warriors v Dragons: Townsend, DWZ straight in; Dufty back on deck

Two teams on the top-eight bubble meet in a contest that may be worth a lot come the end of the season.

As two of the sides separated by just one win and filling 7th to 12th spots on the ladder, clashes between these clubs will be crucial over the final 10 weeks of the regular season.

A win for the Dragons in this one will move them two wins clear of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's men.

The rundown

Team news

Warriors: Mid-season recruits Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (wing) and Chad Townsend (halfback) have been rushed into the side while Roger Tuivasa-Sheck shifts back to fullback in the absence of Reece Walsh (hamstring).

Five-eighth Kodi Nikorima dropped out of the side on Thursday and his place is taken by Sean O'Sullivan.

Rocco Berry will be the 18th man.

Euan Aitken and Josh Curran are set to miss the next two rounds after being on a flight from the Gold Coast to Sydney in which a cabin crew member has since tested positive to COVID-19. Marcelo Montoya moves from wing to centre to replace Aitken and Edward Kosi is the new winger. Eliesa Katoa comes into the starting side to fill the void left by Curran.

Interchange forward Bayley Sironen suffered a head knock in round 15 but is good to go. Bunty Afoa joins the bench with Kane Evans promoted to start.

Taniela Otukolo was the other player to drop out of the squad on Thursday.

The Warriors have won their past five games against the Dragons.

Dragons: Will start 1-17 with Jackson Ford the 18th man.

The return of fullback Matt Dufty (shoulder) sees exciting youngster Tyrell Sloan drop out of the side. Jack Bird shifts from back row to centre and Gerard Beale pushes out to the wing to replace the suspended Mikaele Ravalawa.

Bird is replaced in the back row by Josh Kerr, while Paul Vaughan will start at prop. Josh McGuire and Tyrell Fuimaono both return fom suspension on the bench.

Tariq Sims, Ben Hunt and Andrew McCullough came through Origin II without incident and have been named to play.

Kaide Ellis and Jordan Pereira were the first two players omitted from the squad 24 hours before kick-off.

Brayden Wiliame has scored a try in three consecutive games.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
    Fullback for Dragons is number 1 Matthew Dufty
  • Winger for Warriors is number 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
    Winger for Dragons is number 2 Cody Ramsey
  • Centre for Warriors is number 3 Adam Pompey
    Centre for Dragons is number 3 Brayden Wiliame
  • Centre for Warriors is number 4 Marcelo Montoya
    Centre for Dragons is number 4 Jack Bird
  • Winger for Warriors is number 5 Edward Kosi
    Winger for Dragons is number 5 Gerard Beale
  • Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 22 Sean O'Sullivan
    Five-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Corey Norman
  • Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Chad Townsend
    Halfback for Dragons is number 7 Ben Hunt

Forwards

  • Prop for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
    Prop for Dragons is number 8 Blake Lawrie
  • Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde Egan
    Hooker for Dragons is number 9 Andrew McCullough
  • Prop for Warriors is number 10 Kane Evans
    Prop for Dragons is number 10 Paul Vaughan
  • 2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Eliesa Katoa
    2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Josh Kerr
  • 2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Ben Murdoch-Masila
    2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Tariq Sims
  • Lock for Warriors is number 13 Tohu Harris
    Lock for Dragons is number 13 Jack De Belin

Interchange

  • Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Jazz Tevaga
    Interchange for Dragons is number 14 Josh McGuire
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Leeson Ah Mau
    Interchange for Dragons is number 15 Billy Burns
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Bunty Afoa
    Interchange for Dragons is number 16 Daniel Alvaro
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Bayley Sironen
    Interchange for Dragons is number 17 Tyrell Fuimaono

Reserves

  • Reserve for Warriors is number 18 Rocco Berry
    Reserve for Dragons is number 19 Jackson Ford

Match Officials

  • Referee: Peter Gough
  • Touch Judge: Wyatt Raymond
  • Touch Judge: Dave Munro
  • Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy

Last updated:

Key match-up

Chad Townsend v Ben Hunt: There's a stack of experience between these two playmakers, one with a premiership to his name in 2016 and the other so agonisingly close to one in 2015 it probably still gives him cold sweats. Townsend joins the Warriors on a short-term deal for the remainder of 2021 and his crafty kicking game and calmness under pressure may be enough to carry them back to the finals for the first time since 2018. Hunt was at his running best against Canberra and a repeat of that performance will ensure he's a real handful for Nathan Brown's men.

Stat attack

The Dragons are a team that looks to apply pressure to kickers. The eight charge downs they have managed in 2021 is the most in the NRL. The Warriors, on the other hand, are credited with just two by NRL Stats.

 

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