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NRL: Tigers and Titans battle to avoid wooden spoon

The top eight might be out of sight but there is still plenty to play for on Sunday when Wests Tigers entertain St George Illawarra Dragons and the Gold Coast Titans take on the Newcastle Knights.

It has been a season to forget for three of the four clubs, who could be forgiven for wishing the 2022 NRL season was over.

Only the Dragons have gone close to making finals, but after falling short they will also have one eye on next season and how they can bounce back in 2023.

There is still all to play for however as the Tigers and the Titans are battling to avoid the wooden spoon, while Newcastle need to rescue some pride following a tough few weeks on and off the pitch.

The Tigers sit bottom of the ladder but are locked on 10 points with the Titans with just the two games remaining so it looks set to go right to the wire.

Let’s take a closer look at both games.

What: Wests Tigers v St George Ilawarra Dragons
Where: CommBank Stadium, Sydney
When: 14:00 (AEST) Sunday 28th August 2022
How to watch: Foxtel, Kayo
Odds: Tigers 21/10, Dragons 19/50

The Tigers have had a tough season to say the least but it hit a new low last weekend when they were thrashed 72-6 by the Sydney Roosters.

Commentators, pundits and fans alike were alarmed by the manner of the record defeat and the perception that the Tigers players have thrown the towel in on this season.

There is still all to play for however. The Tigers have never picked up the wooden spoon in their history and they should be fired up to avoid it over the next couple of games.

It will not be easy though. After the game with the Dragons they face the Canberra Raiders who will be desperate for the win to seal a place in the top eight.

So the game with the Dragons has to be viewed as a must-win. They have shown they can do it when beating the Brisbane Broncos in round 20.

They will be without skipper James Tamou who is missing through suspension, while Luke Garner, Ken Maumalo and Alex Seyfarth are out through injury.

The Dragons looked good for the finals at one stage but a poor run of results put an end to their hopes and they are left playing for pride.

They have won just one game in the last four and that came last week when they smashed the Titans 46-26.

The Red V played some excellent, free-flowing footy in that game and will be capable of putting a big score on the Tigers if they show up again.

It was close between the two sides earlier in the season as the Dragons ran out 12-6 winners. That was just the second time this season that the Tigers have kept an opposition side to 12 points or less.

Moses Mbye and Francis Molo are out suspended, while Andrew McCullough has a knee injury.

What: Gold Coast Titans v Newcastle Knights
Where: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
When: 16:05 (AEST) Sunday 28th August 2022
How to watch: Channel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Titans 12/25, Knights 33/20

Both the Titans and Newcastle started the 2022 season well. The Titans won two of the opening four games, while the Knights won both of their opening two games.

Neither would have predicted what was coming but they have both dropped like a stone.

The Titans have won just another two games since then and are battling to avoid their second wooden spoon in four years. The slump is even more alarming considering they made finals last year and were hoping to kick on.

They do however have two winnable games coming up but will need to bounce back from the 46-26 mauling against the Dragons last week.

However the week before they beat Manly 44-24 at Cbus and will be out to inflict the same pain on the Knights.

Phil Sami is expected to return from concussion but centre Patrick Herbert has been ruled out with a knee injury.

The Knights are 13th on the ladder with just six wins to their name this season and have been slammed for some pretty average performances of late.

However they did at least show some fighting spirit when running the Canberra Raiders close last week and will need the same again when they face the Titans.

They do receive a huge double boost as both Tyson Frizell and Daniel Saifiti are back on board for the trip to the Gold Coast.

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