St George Illawarra pack to contain Tigers: Mike Cooper

Mike Cooper says the Dragons' big men are ready for anything the Tigers throw at them. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN
Mike Cooper says the Dragons' big men are ready for anything the Tigers throw at them. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN


English prop Mike Cooper is confident the Dragons can handle a Tigers pack that overpowered the monster Canterbury forwards on Sunday.

The second-placed Bulldogs boast one of the most fearsome big men in the competition but were convincingly rolled by the Tigers last week led by NSW prop Aaron Woods, Keith Galloway and Adam Blair.

The Dragons have also made it tough for opposition packs with Tom Symonds' 53rd-minute try in the 21-12 loss to the Sea Eagles just the second try leaked through the middle third of the field in seven matches.

After copping plenty of flak early in the season, Cooper said the middle third are ready to fire with their finals hopes on the line on Sunday after a disappointing loss to Manly last week.

"I think we're one of the form packs in the competition and we're confident now against any team we play against," Cooper said.

"I think [the Manly game] was one we could have won. We were in it for for most of the game but a few lapses of concentration cost us in the end.

"It was a good solid performance but we let ourselves go with a few penalties and followed it up with a few errors and against a team like Manly you just can't afford to give them that many opportunities."

While he's confident the Dragons have what it takes to mix it with the top packs, Cooper expects Sunday's match to be a step up.

"It's going to be a big challenge for us, they've got a big forward pack, but our middle's been going pretty well recently," Cooper said.

"We went five or six games without conceding a try in the middle so we all believe in each other.

"Every week's a big challenge which is the reason I wanted to come out here.

"It's another week in the NRL, it's another good quality pack with some State of Origin players in there so it'll be another good test."

Hooker Mitch Rein, who notched 37 tackles in an 80-minute performance against the Sea Eagles, also backed his big men to perform on Sunday.

"I definitely back our side every week," Rein said.

"We've really been working hard on our middle and getting our 'D' right because at the start of the year there was a lot of criticism and everyone was writing us off.

"We had good players and we knew we had a good pack but we just couldn't get it together but we've been marking ourselves really hard at training and improving week to week and we've got to improve again this week.

"To give ourselves the best chance to play semi-final football we can't afford to be letting any more games slip."


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