St George Illawarra face season-defining six-game stretch

Dejected: St George Illawarra play Canterbury on Sunday (4pm) at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. Picture: Getty Images
Dejected: St George Illawarra play Canterbury on Sunday (4pm) at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. Picture: Getty Images

St George Illawarra are at the crossroads after eight rounds of the NRL.

Are they the team that started with four wins in their opening five games who based their game around commitment and doing the little things right?

Or are they the team that slumped to their third loss in a row on Sunday against the Wests Tigers who struggled to make metres with ball in hand and looked disjointed in attack?

The answer will come in a season-defining six-game stretch starting against the Bulldogs on Sunday.

Anthony Griffin's team play the Bulldogs, Storm, Sharks, Wests Tigers, Broncos and Bulldogs.

On their best form, they will start favourite in five of those matches and be in good shape for the finals if they can win four or five of those games.

I can't fault their effort, they keep turning up defensively.

Anthony Griffin

But they face some challenges. Rediscovering their attacking mojo is priority No.1 and the return of a fully-fit Ben Hunt will aid that.

However the Red V face a critical shortage in their outside backs.

Zac Lomax (thumb), and Cody Ramsey (rib) have joined suspended wingers Mikaele Ravalawa and Jordan Pereira on the sideline for this week.

"You don't need to be an outside back on our list at the moment," Griffin said.

"We're going to have to go deep into our list and look at our options."

It could prompt the inclusion of Mathew Feagai against Canterbury, after his twin brother Max started his first game of the season on the right wing against the Tigers.

The Bulldogs are starting to show some bite after knocking off the Sharks for their first win recently.

Both teams will enter the game with a same defensively-orientated game-plan: hold the ball, kick long and control field possession. A win will see the Dragons stay in the eight. A loss will see them drop out - and maybe not got back in.