It was the back end of the game which tripped them up in last week’s loss to the Panthers, but the Warriors say past experience suggests it’s their start which will be of most importance against the Dragons this Friday night.
The Kiwi side roared out of the gates against Penrith last week to score five tries in the first half, before blowing the 28-6 lead to lose 36-28.
But after failing to foot it with the Dragons’ formidable forward pack in the opening exchanges of their 26-12 loss to them back in Round 4 of this season, prop Jacob Lillyman says his side will to be near their best right from kick-off if they are to have a chance this time around.
— Terry Williams (@terrynwilliams) May 13, 2017
“Our start wasn’t great [the last time we met the Dragons], I think we gave up some possession in our own half and they capitalised on that,” Lillyman said.
“We finished the game stronger than we started but ultimately we let them get out to too much of a lead, so certainly we are going to have to be on the ball.
“There’s momentum swings, that’s the big one in this game, you have got to be able to stay in the game when the other team has got all the running and still defend really well.”
Across the opening 10 games of the season St George Illawarra have run for more metres than any side bar the Brisbane Broncos, averaging 1650 metres per match.
It’s a concerning stat for the Warriors, who average more than 100 metres less than the Dragons and have struggled to achieve consistent results through their pack in 2017.
Veteran big man Ben Matulino, who will play his 200th NRL match on Friday night, said St George Illawarra’s forwards were among the best in the game currently.
“They are a fit pack and I know from talking with Russell [Packer] that they have had a massive pre-season and are a lot fitter than they were last year. That has won them a lot of games,” Matulino said.
“Paul Vaughan [is] probably the signing of the year, I have watched their games and he has brought a lot of energy to their team and I can see him working pretty well with Russell. We have got a lot of stopping on our hands.
“They are an aggressive pack and I guess for us as middles we have got to aim up and match them, if we do it will go a long way to winning the game.”
The Warriors possess an awful head-to-head record against the Dragons, winning just 20 per cent of the 25 games played against the Red V since the merged club formed back at the end of 1998.
— The Wolf (@WillHillWolf) May 16, 2017
St George Illawarra have also lost to the Warriors just once in their last 13 meetings.