You don’t have to look far in to Western Sydney to realise there’s no love lost between Bulldogs and Eels fans, and in the Bulldogs’ first appearance at ANZ Stadium in 2016, fans won’t have to leave your seat, not that they’d want to, a matchup where the teams have the most even rosters they’ve arguably had since the 2009 Preliminary Final.
LAST TIME OUT
Even though they never technically led during the game, the Dogs of War were able to steal a win under lights at Pepper Stadium last Thursday, a kick after the siren to Kerrod Holland giving the team a win and Holland a story to tell his grandchildren. The heroics of Holland and half Moses Mbye meant that the Bulldogs are two from two to start the year.
Parramatta on the other hand beat notoriously slow starters North Queensland by rattling their playstyle and not letting them form any cohesive plays, 20-16: exciting forwards such as Kenny Edwards stuck in to the Cowboys’ premiership pack and with skill, crowd support and the element of surprise handed the defending premiers their first loss this year.
Hurly burly Bulldogs forwards don’t have an off switch and they’ll look to make a statement against a Parramatta pack that put their own stamp on the defending premiers: Manu Ma’u is suspended so Parramatta lose their most potent attacking forward, while on the Canterbury side of the equation David Klemmer has escaped a suspension for contrary conduct. Parramatta’s forwards have to watch out for a big angry Klemmer who wants to prove a point, but don’t expect them to roll over.
The Eels have had the crowd help them over the line in an inspired display last week and getting early momentum is vital if they want to topple the Bulldogs. Unfortunately, they don’t have a home crowd for the very first time this year, instead having to contend with a vocal Belmore contingent. The crowd and the sheer size of the Canterbury pack mean that when the chips are down they’re likelier to get the most from the scrap and the grind, and that’s what can carry them over the line on Friday.
Bulldogs by 4.
Bulldogs: 1 William Hopoate, 2 Curtis Rona, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Chase Stanley, 5 Sam Perrett, 6 Josh Reynolds, 7 Moses Mbye, 8 Aiden Tolman, 9 Craig Garvey, 10 James Graham, 11 Joshua Jackson, 12 Tony Williams, 13 Greg Eastwood. Interchange: 14 Sam Kasiano, 15 Tim Browne, 16 David Klemmer, 17 Adam Elliott, 19 Lloyd Perrett, 20 Shaun Lane
Eels: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Semi Radradra, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Bradley Takairangi, 5 Clinton Gutherson, 6 Corey Norman, 7 Kieran Foran, 8 Junior Paulo, 9 Isaac De Gois, 10 Tim Mannah, 11 Kenneth Edwards, 12 Beau Scott, 13 Tepai Moeroa. Interchange: 14 Kaysa Pritchard, 15 Peni Terepo, 16 Danny Wicks, 17 David Gower