Date: Friday, April 3
Venue: ANZ Stadium
1 Brett Morris 2 Curtis Rona 3 Josh Morris 4 Tim Lafai 5 Sam Perrett 6 Josh Reynolds 7 Trent Hodkinson
8 Aiden Tolman 9 Michael Lichaa 10 James Graham (c) 11 Josh Jackson 12 Tony Williams 13 Greg Eastwood
Interchange 14 Sam Kasiano 15 David Klemmer 16 Frank Pritchard 17 Tim Browne 18 Moses Mbye 19 Corey Thompson
1 Greg Inglis (c) 2 Alex Johnston 3 Daryl Millard 4 Bryson Goodwin 5 Joel Reddy 6 Luke Keary 7 Adam Reynolds 8 George Burgess 9 Issac Luke 10 Dave Tyrrell 11 Glenn Stewart 12 Chris McQueen 13 Tim Grant
Interchange 14 Cameron McInnes 15 Ben Lowe 16 Chris Grevsmuhl 17 Thomas Burgess 18 Jason Clark 19 Nathan Brown
The fourth-placed Bulldogs host the third-placed Rabbitohs in a blockbuster Good Friday clash at ANZ Stadium, that pits last season’s Grand Finalists against each other. Both sides have started the year well with three wins from their opening four matches and the Bulldogs are coming off a nail-biting 25-24 Golden Point win over the Wests Tigers. The Rabbitohs on the other hand, looked sluggish and out-of-sorts against the Parramatta Eels and were humbled to the tune of 29-16. Coincidentally it was against the Tigers that the first signs of a drop in form showed, when they struggled to put their opponents away. The Rabbitohs will be without strike centre Dylan Walker for a month after he broke his hand in their loss to the Eels. Remarkably, it didn’t stop him from scoring two tries. In his place comes Daryl Millard, the former Dragon and Bulldog who never really established himself in the NRL over four seasons (2006-2009) before a five season stint in the European Super League. He’s back for his first NRL match since 2009 and will no doubt be a target in defence for the Bulldogs. They welcome back five-eighth Josh Reynolds from a broken arm, suffered in their opening-round loss to the Panthers. Brett Morris, barring another pre-game injury, is set to take his place at fullback, where he has been getting stronger every week.
Last week’s hero Moses Mbye has shifted back to an extended bench to accommodate Reynolds. Against the Eels last week, the Rabbitohs were out-enthused, and came up with 13 errors, 17 missed tackles and completed just 68% of their sets. They need to remain strong if things aren’t going their way against the Bulldogs or risk back-to-back losses. Although it was 6 months ago, the Bulldogs will be keen for revenge after their 30-6 loss to the Rabbitohs in the 2014 decider, making it two Grand Final losses in three years after their 14-12 loss to the Melbourne Storm in 2012. The Rabbtiohs aren’t in great form, and the time is right for the Bulldogs to strike, especially with the return of Reynolds.
Dylan Walker is a big loss, and Millard doesn’t offer a lot, and could be exposed defensively. In front of what should be a big crowd at ANZ Stadium, the return of Josh Reynolds is a massive plus for the Bulldogs who look to be in better form and should get the job done. Bulldogs by 6.