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Canberra Raiders v St George Illawarra Dragons
Friday, July 14, 7:50pm (AEST) at GIO Stadium, Canberra

The Raiders have arguably been the most disappointing side this season, while the Dragons have been one of the biggest surprise packets. The Raiders will be boosted by the return of hooker Josh Hodgson, while the Dragons have named Josh Dugan and Paul Vaughan on an extended bench. Tyson Frizell and Euan Aitken are both big losses for the Red V.

The Dragons have won four straight against the Raiders including the last two in the ACT after winning just 1 of the 17 prior.

Canberra have been the big disappointments of 2017 so far, sitting 11th on the premiership with a 6-10 record despite being second favourite for the premiership at one stage. The Raiders have dropped four straight including their last two by double digits when starting favourite in both. Canberra have conceded four of their six largest scores over the last four weeks. St George Illawarra are in free-fall with just three wins in their last nine games – two against the bottom two teams – and are down to seventh on the ladder with a 9-7 record. The Saints have been held to 10 points or fewer in their last three games not against Newcastle. 

Key Matchup
Joseph Leilua v Tim Lafai: It’s been a mixed bag from Leilua with his frustration boiling over in recent matches. The Raiders need him to recapture his 2016 form if the Green Machine are to make an unlikely run to the finals. Lafai has been one of the most improved players of 2017 and possesses one of the best offloads in the game. He just needs to be more selective about when he decides to get rid of the ball. There will be no love lost between these two attacking weapons.

Stats That Matter
– Canberra are 7-9 ATS with an 8-8 total record while St George Illawarra are 8-8 ATS with a 9-7 under record.

– St George Illawarra have won four straight against Canberra including the last two in the ACT after winning just 1 of the 17 prior.

– Eight of the last nine matches have topped 40 points.

– Canberra are 19-27 ATS at Canberra Stadium since 2014 with a 14-19 ATS record as a favourite and a 1-6 ATS (with a 6-1 under record) as a favourite of less than a try.

– The under is 33-25 when the home favourite has lost four straight.

– Interstate underdogs of less than a try are 49-20 ATS since 2014.

– The Dragons are 5-2 ATS as an underdog of 3.5 or less on the road.

– St George Illawarra are 23-12 under as a road underdog.

– The Saints are 13-6 under as a road underdog at night.

– Canberra have covered just 2 of their last 7 home night games.

Final Thoughts
The Wolf like many others expected bigger things from the Raiders this season. Meanwhile, the Dragons have already exceeded expectations, but look weaker on paper this week, especially if Josh Dugan doesn’t back up from Origin 3 and Paul Vaughan doesn’t make the final 17. Despite all of that, the Dragons will keep it simple and back their strong defence to keep them in the contest. The +5.5 start for the Dragons looks too big and is The Wolf’s recommended play, while the Raiders should do enough to get the two competition points and keep their slim hopes of finals football alive.

How It’s Shaping Up
Canberra by 2

Best Bet
Best: St George Illawarra +5.5 ($1.91)

Other Recommended Bets
Other: Under 39.5 ($1.88)

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