Dragons up against Canberra hoodoo - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dragons up against Canberra hoodoo

By Bonny Symons-Brown 14/08/2009 08:14:07 PM Comments (0)

It's the curse of Canberra and it's plagued St George Illawarra for almost a decade.

They may be the runaway NRL competition leaders, but the Dragons will be seeking their first win at chilly Canberra Stadium since 2000 when they take on the Raiders on Saturday night.

And the stats get worse for Wayne Bennett's frontrunners. St George Illawarra have only managed to defeat Canberra once in their last 10 clashes.

Canberra aren't playing up the hoodoo, but they could find themselves relying on it if the runaway train that is the Dragons gets away to their usual fast start.

Raiders coach David Furner said his 13th-placed side was keen to right the wrongs of last week's loss to the high-flying Bulldogs in Sydney.

"We spoke about last week where our first half wasn't up to our standard, we missed some opportunities and we weren't patient," said Furner on Friday.

"St George Illawarra is a side that if we were to have the same mentality there, they could put some points on us.

"So we've got to make sure that we start fast and aggressive."

Much has changed for the Dragons since their last head-to-head against Canberra back in Round 18, 2008 - most notably the arrival of super coach Bennett.

Furner said keeping the Dragons in check would be all about mastering the little things.

"We've talked about ticking the boxes," he said.

"We've got to make sure that the little aspects of the game, being aggressive, working the ground, line speed, you have to be good.

"You don't want to give St George too many opportunities, they are a very patient side and they are the in-form side in the competition."

While the Dragons got lucky at the NRL judiciary with Justin Poore cleared to play, they will still be without suspended duo Matt Prior and Beau Scott.

Centre Matt Cooper is also in doubt with a heel injury.

The Raiders have their own injury woes after centre Joel Monaghan was ruled out with bone bruising to his left knee.

He will be replaced by Joel Thompson and second-rower Trevor Thurling joins the 17 too.

Furner said he would also be looking at Joe Picker and big Tom Learoyd-Lahrs to play on the left-hand side but a final starting line-up would not be decided until game day.

"I know (Learoyd-Lahrs) is keen because he had the opportunity to play in the State of Origin, enjoyed the experience, and then only played 25 minutes against Penrith (in Round 19)," Furner said.

"So he's looking forward to it and we need that go-forward, we need that aggression, and I think Tommy will give us that."

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