Dragons confident of peaking for finals - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dragons confident of peaking for finals

David Beniuk 13/08/2011 04:15:31 PM Comments (0)

A three-match losing streak has done little to dent St George Illawarra's belief they will peak at the right time for the NRL finals beginning in four weeks.

The premiers have lost six of their past eight games but coach Wayne Bennett said they had regained their hunger in last week's 16-14 loss to the in-form West Tigers.

That improved performance, a week after a shock loss to South Sydney after the Dragons had led 20-0, had commentators suggesting Bennett's side had been in a tough training period and would begin tapering as they reached the business end of the season.

Asked about it after last week's loss, the master coach was giving little away but Dragons players are backing their ability to come good at the right time.

"For us it's about playing how we want to play for the full 80 minutes and building towards hopefully what we see as peak form for the semi-finals," injured centre Mark Gasnier said.

"You do what you do. We're not losing by much, it's maybe little lapses during moments of the game that are costing us.

"And you don't panic, you still work hard and do what you know works for you and that's what we'll be doing."

The Dragons will get no better opportunity to snap their losing streak than against a demoralised Sydney Roosters outfit in Sunday's grand final rematch.

Thrashed 36-8 by Manly last Sunday, the Roosters were then forced to stand down Dally M medallist Todd Carney and forwards Nate Myles and Frank Paul Nuuausala after they breached a booze ban designed to help the club avoid the wooden spoon.

The Roosters have never beaten the joint venture side at WIN Stadium and have lost the past six games between the clubs, including this year's Anzac Day clash 24-10.

Coach Brian Smith will name his replacements for the suspended trio on match day, but captain Braith Anasta is likely to make his well accustomed switch from the back row to five-eighth.

The Dragons lost Gasnier to a hip flexor injury this week, with his place likely to be taken by youngster Kyle Stanley.

Five-eighth Jamie Soward, yet to lose to his old club in seven appearances, is confident he will take his place after suffering back spasms against the Tigers.

"My back has since pulled up well and our physiotherapists have been looking after it and working hard to get it right," Soward said.

"I ran on Thursday and there were some really positive signs ... a couple of days rest really helped it.

"I'll continue to work on it and should be fine come Sunday."

The Dragons will find themselves back in the top four with a win, while the Roosters can take a step towards avoiding the dreaded spoon they also "won" in 2009 with a victory.

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