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.
Match: Warriors v Dragons
Round 16 -
Venue: Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
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.
Match: Warriors v Dragons
Round 16 -
Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Roger Tuivasa-SheckFullback for Dragons is number 1 Matt Dufty
Winger for Warriors is number 2 Dallin Watene-ZelezniakWinger for Dragons is number 2 Cody Ramsey
Centre for Warriors is number 3 Adam PompeyCentre for Dragons is number 3 Brayden Wiliame
Centre for Warriors is number 4 Marcelo MontoyaCentre for Dragons is number 4 Jack Bird
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Edward KosiWinger for Dragons is number 5 Gerard Beale
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 22 Sean O'SullivanFive-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Corey Norman
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Chad TownsendHalfback for Dragons is number 7 Ben Hunt
Prop for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-BlakeProp for Dragons is number 8 Blake Lawrie
Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde EganHooker for Dragons is number 9 Andrew McCullough
Prop for Warriors is number 10 Kane EvansProp for Dragons is number 10 Paul Vaughan
2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Eliesa Katoa2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Josh Kerr
2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Ben Murdoch-Masila2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Tariq Sims
Lock for Warriors is number 13 Tohu HarrisLock for Dragons is number 13 Jack De Belin
Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Jazz TevagaInterchange for Dragons is number 14 Josh McGuire
Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Leeson Ah MauInterchange for Dragons is number 15 Billy Burns
Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Bunty AfoaInterchange for Dragons is number 16 Daniel Alvaro
Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Bayley SironenInterchange for Dragons is number 17 Tyrell Fuimaono
Reserve for Warriors is number 18 Rocco BerryReserve for Dragons is number 19 Jackson Ford
- Referee: Peter Gough
- Touch Judge: Wyatt Raymond
- Touch Judge: Dave Munro
- Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy
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.
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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