Dragons coach Paul McGregor says St George Illawarra motivated to end Cronulla Sharks' season

Blayke Brailey races through to score his try against the Dragons at Wollongong earlier this season. Picture: Adam McLean
Blayke Brailey races through to score his try against the Dragons at Wollongong earlier this season. Picture: Adam McLean

With their own season all but over, Paul McGregor says his side will be motivated by trying to stop their fierce local rivals from reaching the NRL finals.

St George Illawarra travel to PointsBet Stadium to face Cronulla on Sunday looking for a win to wrestle back the Monty Porter Cup.

The Dragons are unlikely to make the finals languishing in 14th place on 16 points, five outside the top eight with four games to play. The Sharks meanwhile need to win at least three of their last four games to reach the post-season but are guaranteed to climb back into the top eight should they beat the Dragons.

There could also be some added bragging rights with the possibility of Sunday's game being the last derby match at Shark Park until 2022.

Cronulla CEO Richard Munro confirmed late last month the club would proceed with the major redevelopment of their leagues club, forcing the Sharks to move their home games from Woolooware to alternate venues for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Cronulla plan to play the bulk of their home matches at either Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Kogarah or WIN Stadium, Wollongong but want to take their home derby matches against the Dragons to Bankwest Stadium at Parramatta.

Dragons coach McGregor said his side were motivated to land a potentially fatal blow in their local rivals' finals charge having endured other teams ending their own season prematurely in previous years.

"Form goes out the window when these two teams clash from the past games," he said.

"And it's important that we become the finals spoilers for the last month of footy and start with the Sharks, obviously a good footy team. They'll need to win three of their last four so it's an important game for them. We'll go up there with a bit of an attitude to spoil the party.

"Every game you've got to approach to win the game but this one has got a little bit more feel to it. Certainly every game you play against them, even the game we played [at Wollongong] earlier this year there was a point in it at half-time and I think we were down to 14 men after half-time and they just got us at the back end of it. It's always a real tough, grinding game that's physical. It'll be no different on the weekend.

It will also be the last derby appearances for Dragons captain Gareth Widdop and former Shark Jeremy Latimore.

McGregor said the Dragons would be keen to send the pair out with one final derby victory to celebrate.

"We want to finish strong, build towards next year, we've got Gareth and Jeremy leaving the club so we want to make sure they go out on a good note," he said.

"And it's an opportunity to try a few players. But the main thing is as spoilers, we've been spoiled before a few times trying to make semis so we'd like to make it hard for other teams.

"You've got to find ways to stay stimulated and we've had a season that's not good enough. There's a lot of reasons around that. At the end of the day we haven't performed."

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