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NRL: Warriors homecoming sets up Sunday

There are two NRL games to wrap up round 16 on Sunday with the Warriors taking on Wests Tigers  while St George Illawarra Dragons entertain the Canberra Raiders.

There is plenty on the line for both the Dragons and the Raiders as they push for a place in the top eight and finals footy at the end of the year.

The Dragons are ninth, two points ahead of the Raiders, but have played one game less. With that in mind the Raiders could do with getting the win in Wollongong.

Both teams are in decent form so it could be a close, exciting game at WIN Stadium.

The first game of the day sees two teams struggling near the foot of the NRL ladder go head-to-head when the Warriors take on the Tigers.

Arguably the most significant thing about this game is the Warriors playing their first game back on home soil at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.

The Warriors had been based in Queensland over the last couple of years due to teams not being able to head to New Zealand to play. Playing in front of their home fans again could give them a huge much-needed lift.

It is also the battle of the two interim coaches with the Warriors Stacey Jones up against Tigers temporary coach Brett Kimmorley.

What: New Zealand Warriors v Wests Tigers
Where: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand
When: 14:00 (AEST), Sunday 3rd July, 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Warriors 31/50, Tigers 13/10

The Warriors will be buzzing to play their first game on home soil since round 24 back in 2019 and as you would expect the Mt Smart Stadium is a sell-out.

Emotions will be running high for sure and if the Warriors can use them in a positive way they could pick up just their fifth win of the season.

They sit second from bottom on the NRL ladder, with the Tigers one place above them having played a game less. The finals are out of reach but there is still plenty to play for between now and the end of the season.

The Warriors are on a seven-match losing streak and there is no better time to snap it when they face the Tigers on Sunday.

They will have to do it without star fullback Reece Walsh however after he came down sick in the lead up to the game and will sit out.

It means Chanel Harris-Tavita will take the No.1 jersey, with Adam Pompey coming in to play at centre. Euan Aitken has recovered from concussion and is back available.

Wests Tigers have not done much better in recent weeks and have picked up just one win in the last seven games. There has not been any improvement since the sacking of coach Michael Maguire either.

Even so they will still be out to upset the homecoming party on Sunday. Jackson Hastings says the Tigers will be ready for the hot and emotional atmosphere in Auckland so we will see how they go.

There is mixed news coming from the treatment room for the Tigers. Captain James Tamou misses out with a calf injury, with Alex Seyfarth coming into the starting side.

James Roberts is set to make his first appearance since round six after recovering from back surgery, while Stefano Utoikamanu is also back following a foot injury.

What: St George Illawarra Dragons v Canberra Raiders
Where: WIN Stadium, Wollongong, Sydney
When: 16:05 (AEST) Sunday 3rd July, 2022
How to watch: Channel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Dragons 23/20, Raiders 13/10

The Dragons slipped out of the top eight on Thursday night when Manly pulled off a shock win over the Melbourne Storm.

However they can jump back in there with a win over the Raiders. It would put them two points ahead of Manly and four ahead of the Roosters in 10th. They would also have a game in hand on both so a win on Sunday would be huge.

The Dragons will be hoping that Ben Hunt will be fit to play after picking up a leg injury when playing State of Origin for Queensland last week.

Hunt is one of the top players in the comp this season and was leading the Dally M after round 12. Should he miss out then Jayden Sullivan is on standby waiting to come in.

The Raiders tend to win one then lose one these days. They beat the Knights by two points in their last game and will be aiming to go back-to-back on Sunday.

Canberra also came out on top 20-12 when the two sides met at the end of last season. Another win would take them right into the mix for finals.

Coach Ricky Stuart has been boosted by the news star playmaker Jack Wighton has recovered from sickness and comes back into the side.

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