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Dragons v Sea Eagles: Musgrove in for Bird; DCE hits 300

The Dragons are back in action at WIN Stadium on Saturday night looking to put a dent in Manly's finals hopes and spoil Daly Cherry-Evans' 300th game after both sides recorded victories last weekend.

St George Illawarra secured a crucial two points against Wests Tigers which should all but help them avoid any thought of a wooden spoon at the club while the Sea Eagles survived a scare in Cronulla to stay within reach of the top eight.

Every week presents a new narrative for the Dragons ahead of Shane Flanagan's takeover next season and for the time being it seems winning after a bye week has help settling things down for the Red V. 

The Sea Eagles have to keep winning, particularly against sides like the Dragons who are lower than them on the ladder, if they want to reach the finals this year. 

It's the first time both sides will meet each other in 2023 with their only meeting last year ending in a 20-6 win to the Dragons a year ago - Ben Hunt scoring twice in a mouth-watering match-up ahead against Kangaroos teammate Cherry-Evans, who reaches 300 NRL games. 

Team news
Dragons: 22-year-old Connor Muhleisen will make his NRL debut off the bench in place of Moses Mbye, who was granted a release by the club to pursue an opportunity overseas. Zane Musgrove joins the bench in place of Jack Bird, who dropped out of the squad as part of the 19-man team update on Friday.

Sea Eagles: Key forwards Taniela Paseka (knee) and Josh Aloiai (shoulder) so Matt Lodge and Toafofoa Sipley will start the game and Ethan Bullemor joins the bench. Jake Trbojevic suffered a head knock against the Sharks but passed a HIA late and is ready to go in captain Daly Cherry-Evans' 300th game. There were no changes to the Manly squad 24 hours out from kick-off.

Stat attack

  • Daly Cherry-Evans will notch his 300th NRL appearance, becoming the 49th player to do so and just the 19th to achieve it at one club. Sea Eagles hooker Lachlan Croker will bring up his 100th NRL game on the same night.
  • The Dragons have won seven of their last 10 matches against the Sea Eagles.
  • The Sea Eagles have not won in Wollongong since 2003, losing 10 of 11 matches against the Dragons at WIN Stadium.
  • Winger Jason Saab and interchange Aaron Woods are the only Sea Eagles players who have won an NRL game in Wollongong.
  • Dragons winger Mikaele Ravalawa has scored eight tries in his past six games at WIN Stadium.
  • The Dragons are chasing back-to-back wins for the first time in 2023.

Stats supplied by David Middleton, League Information Services, author of the official annual of the NRL.

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