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NRL: Wooden spoon contenders kick-off week 21

The battle to avoid the wooden spoon takes centre stage in the opening game of the NRL this week, when St George Illawarra Dragons entertain Wests Tigers.

It has been a season to forget for both of these sides, who are locked in the bottom two slots of the ladder with games fast running out.

The chance to make finals is long gone and now it is all about trying to finish the season as strongly as possible and make headway up the ladder.

Nobody wants to land the wooden spoon and both of these sides should be giving it their all on Thursday night.

The Tigers are priced at 1.44 to finish the season with the most losses, while the Dragons can be backed at 2.75.

Whoever wins this one will have gone a long way toward avoiding the wooden spoon.

WhatSt George Illawarra Dragons v Wests Tigers
WhereWIN Stadium, Sydney
When19:50 (AEST), Thursday 20th July 2023
How to watchChannel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
OddsSt George Illawarra Dragons 1.65, Wests Tigers 2.25

Dragons in need of home comforts

The Dragons have won just four games all season and have lost their last three on the bounce heading into the clash with the Tigers.

After heavy defeats against the Sharks and Warriors, there were some signs of improvement in the ten-point loss against the Canberra Raiders before the bye.

The Dragons have shown what they are capable of this season when beating South Sydney Rabbitohs and Sydney Roosters, while also running Penrith Panthers close.

However, they have not done it enough, hence why they sit second from bottom on the ladder with only the Tigers below them.

The Red V do have a good record against the Tigers, winning five of the last seven meetings and will be looking to make home advantage count.

All four of their wins this season have been on home turf, and they will also look to winger Mikaele Ravalawa to inflict some more damage on the Tigers.

He is in prime form after scoring seven tries in his last five games.

Tigers target Dragons double

Wests Tigers did manage to beat the Dragons in Magic Round earlier this season, just one of three games they have won this season.

They edged the Dragons by two points and can be backed at 6.50 to win by 1-5 points on Thursday evening.

However, it will take a big turnaround following some heavy losses in recent weeks. They were thumped 74-0 by North Queensland Cowboys, but they performed better against Newcastle Knights last weekend.

They looked lively in attack, but it was their defence that let them down in the 34-18 loss.

The Tigers have won on the road just once this season, but it was a big one, as they shocked the Panthers 12-8.

The Dragons have lost their last three games at WIN Stadium, conceding 102 points, and that is something the Tigers will look to exploit. But they will also need to tighten up themselves.

Wests have been boosted by the news that Charlie Staines looks set to return following illness, but Luke Brooks remains on the sidelines.

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