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Newcastle Knights v St George Illawarra Dragons
Saturday, July 29, 3pm (AEST) at McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

The Knights look near certainties of winning the wooden spoon for a third straight season and 2018 can’t come quick enough with some promising signings for next season. The Dragons shocked everyone last week, posting 50+ points for the first time in a decade in their 52-22 thumping of the Sea Eagles. Rookie Matthew Dufty was outstanding in his debut for the Dragons and his performance against the Sea Eagles has seen Josh Dugan shift to the centres to replace the injured Euan Aitken. Dragons backrower Joel Thompson has been named after being a late withdrawal last week.

The Dragons have won five straight and nine of their last 10 against the Knights. The Dragons won a high-scoring affair 32-28 at Kogarah earlier this season, with winger Jason Nightingale scoring a hat-trick. The Red V have also won 11 of the last 12 matches in Newcastle.

Newcastle are last on the ladder with just two wins from their 18 games. They have lost eight straight and have conceded at least 28 in six of those. The Knights have the worst defence in the NRL to go with the 14th-ranked attack. St George Illawarra are eighth on the ladder with a 10-8 record and enter this off their first 50-plus point attacking performance in a decade. The Saints have now won four of their last eight. The Dragons have conceded at least 18 points in their last five. 

Key Matchup
Nathan Ross v Matthew Dufty: Nathan Ross has been solid for the Knights all season and looks to have found a home at fullback. No one can ever question his effort and he continues to put in despite the Knights position on the ladder. Debuts don’t get much better than what Matthew Dufty produced against the Sea Eagles last week. His stats make for impressive reading – 1 try, 2 try-assists, 2 line-breaks, 13 tackle-breaks and 15 runs for 188 metres. He has forced Josh Dugan to make his return in the centres and The Wolf is expecting another big performance from “Duffman” against the Knights.

Stats That Matter
– Newcastle are 8-10 ATS with a 10-8 under record while St George Illawarra are 10-8 ATS with a 10-8 under record.

– The Dragons have won five straight and nine of their last 10 against Newcastle though the last two matches have been decided by four points or fewer.

– The Saints have won 11 of the last 12 matches in Newcastle.

– The last four matches have all topped 48 points.

– The Knights have covered just 2 of their last 7 as a home underdog of 8 or more with the last three going over the total.

– The Knights are 17-13 over in day matches at home since 2014.

– St George Illawarra are 7-3 over when favoured by 8 or more.

– The over is 18-13 when the away team posted 50 dating back to 2008.

Final Thoughts
The Dragons will be on cloud nine after posting 52 points in their 30-point win over the Sea Eagles last week and will be keen to flex their muscles for a consecutive week. It should be a sunny afternoon in Newcastle on Saturday afternoon and The Wolf is expecting the points to rack up again. Take the overs and the Dragons 13+.

How It’s Shaping Up
St George Illawarra by 16

Best Bet
Over 44 ($1.88)

Other Recommended Bets
St George Illawarra 13+ ($2.10)

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