Date: Monday, 8th June, 2015
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Bulldogs: 1) Sam Perrett 2) Curtis Rona 3) Josh Morris 4) Moses Mbye 5) Corey Thompson 6) Josh Reynolds 7) Trent Hodkinson 8) Aiden Tolman 9) Michael Lichaa 10) James Graham 11) Josh Jackson 12) Frank Pritchard 13) Greg Eastwood Int: 14) Sam Kasiano 15) Tim Browne 16) Tony Williams 17) David Klemmer
Dragons: 1 Josh Dugan 2 Eto Nabuli 3 Euan Aitken 4 Peter Mata’utia 5 Jason Nightingale 6 Gareth Widdop 7 Benji Marshall 8 Leeson Ah Mau 9 Mitch Rein 10 Mike Cooper 11 Tyson Frizell 12 Joel Thompson 13 Trent Merrin Interchange 14 Ben Creagh 15 Will Matthews 16 Heath L’Estrange 17 Jack de Belin 19 Jake Marketo
The Canterbury Bulldogs return to near full strength, as they look to upset the table topping St George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ stadium on Monday afternoon.
While still missing the likes of Tim Lafai and Brett Morris, the Bulldogs side welcomes back Origin stars Trent Hodkinson, David Klemmer, Josh Morris and Josh Jackson. Even with their stars returning, it still appears a very daunting task to take on a Dragons outfit that demolished the Cronulla Sharks 42-6 in their last start.
For much of the season, the Dragons attack was a talking point, as they failed to find points, however did enough in defence to sore high on the ladder. This has changed in recent weeks, scoring 74 points in their past two games. It is an ominous sign for a Canterbury side that has failed to live up to their own lofty standards in 2015.
For the Dogs to get the win, Trent Hodkinson must find form. The Belmore halfback will be on notice from both his State side and club that he needs to lift his game in order to keep his spot in both sides. After a lacklustre performance in Origin I and disappointing form leading up the State v State encounter, many Bulldogs fans are calling for Hidkinson to be dropped in favour of boom rookie Moses Mbye, who has been named in his less favourable position of centre for the clash with the Dragons. It is now or never for Hodkinson, with everything on the line, including a contract extension. If he doesn’t find his feet soon, the pressure will be on coach Des Hasler to relegate his number seven back to reserves.
The visiting side have the luxury of welcoming back one of their regular first grade members to a side already at the top of their game, with the return of Joel Thompson from a hamstring injury. It is a further boost to a side that can’t seem to do wrong at the moment.
The Canterbury side will need to win the forward battle if they are to go close to winning the game. If they fail to control the middle of the field, the brilliance of Benji Marshall and Gareth Widdop will create too many points for the Dragons side, particularly with the in form Josh Dugan lurking around.
The previous time these two teams met was in round six, a game the Dragons ran away handsomely with via a 31-6 score line. The Bulldogs were depleted at the time, so the score line may not reflect as well on the Bulldogs, however the Dragons have only gotten better since then.
Dragons look unstoppable at the moment, and it still isn’t clicking for the Bulldogs. St George by 14.