2 days ago
Bulldogs v Dragons preview
The Dragons look to regain top spot on the ladder as the Bulldogs try to keep their faltering season alive.
In all honesty, Canterbury's season is as good as gone. The Bulldogs have struggled to score many points in 2018 and enter Round 14 with the second-worst attacking record. Unfortunately, it does not get any easier for them this weekend as they face a Dragons team with the best attack in the competition. In addition, they will be without key playmaker Kieran Foran (toe), who is replaced by Jeremy Marshall-King. Foran's injury has also opened the door for Michael Lichaa, who returns to the top grade in the No. 9 jersey. With just three wins to their name in 2018, the Bulldogs are currently eight points adrift of the Top Eight but look likely to avoid the Wooden Spoon given Parramatta's woes. However, Canterbury will fancy their chances given that they have won 11 of their past 12 against the Dragons. They also have a dominant forward pack more than capable of taking down the big men in their opposition.
The Bulldogs, however, will need to prepare for an early statement from the St. George Illawarra forwards after they were personally embarrassed in their 28-2 loss to Penrith a fortnight ago. The loss saw many who doubted the Dragons' premiership credentials resurface. As a result, the Red V will need to quickly bounce back and should have the clear advantage in attack against a stuttering Bulldogs outfit. They may have to overcome the possible losses of several Origin players, with Ben Hunt in particular a chance of missing Monday afternoon's game after struggling with a calf injury recently.
Last meeting: Round 26 2017 - Dragons 20 Bulldogs 26
Dragons fans may want to stop reading here… their 2017 finals hopes were dashed after their 26-20 loss to the Bulldogs in Round 26 last year at ANZ Stadium.
Who to watch: If the Bulldogs are to emerge victorious on Monday afternoon it will be off the back of their forward pack. David Klemmer has been arguably Canterbury's best in an otherwise disappointing season and currently averages the most running metres out of any forward in the competition. Against a rampaging Dragons pack worn down by Origin duties, a big performance from Klemmer could make a massive difference.
Tariq Sims could count himself a tad unlucky to miss out on a spot in Brad Fittler's Origin side. He may be relying on injury or suspension to be given a chance, but strong club form will certainly see his name back in the frame for selection in 2019. With Jack de Belin, Paul Vaughan and Tyson Frizzell all set to back up from Wednesday night's physical encounter, Paul McGregor will be relying on the likes of Sims to stand up and take on extra responsibility.
The favourite: The Dragons are well backed to take the two points on the Queen's Birthday.
My tip: Fatigue may be a factor here for the Dragons' big men, but the motivation to respond after their 26-point defeat a fortnight ago should push them to step up. With superior attack, I cannot find many reasons to back the Bulldogs here. If Ben Hunt plays, the Red V will claim a comfortable win. If he doesn't, take a try off the prediction. Dragons by 18.
1. Moses Mbye 2. Brett Morris 3. John Olive 4. William Hopoate 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Jeremy Marshall-King 7. Matt Frawley 8. Aaron Woods 9. Michael Lichaa 16. Renouf To'omaga 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Adam Elliot 10. David Klemmer 15. Kerrod Holland 17. Aiden Tolman 20. Clay Priest
1. Matthew Dufty 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Euan Aitken 4. Timoteo Lafai 15. Kurt Mann 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Ben Hunt 8. James Graham 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. Jack de Belin 5. Jason Nightingale 14. Jeremy Latimore 16. Leeson Ah Mau 19. Jacob Host
Referees: Matt Cecchin, Tim Roby; Sideline Officials: Chris Sutton, Jeff Younis; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy, Ben Galea;