The Bulldogs have moved their home game against New Zealand to… New Zealand, as they did in 2014 when they took it to Hamilton. This time they take their fixture to the capital, Wellington, setting up for a clash from which Andrew McFadden’s men have not emerged victorious since 2011.
LAST TIME OUT
The Bulldogs were able to hold out the notoriously professional Storm outfit on the back of their defense, coming away with the chocolates assisted by individual defensive brilliance by Sam Perrett, marking up against flying Fijian Marika Koroibete and denying the big man multiple four pointers. Their attack still does need some polish, as does their discipline, reflected when they were on the wrong end of a 7-3 penalty count.
The Warriors couldn’t contain a powerful Manly outfit, who put on 34 points – 14 of which came from goals, along with a grab bag of five tries. Their defense is only better than that of the Roosters and Newcastle, and it isn’t a coincidence the Roosters and Newcastle occupy last and second last on the ladder – an improvement in defense will go a long way to a Warriors win.
Jeff Robson was discarded from the halves in a move that sees Shaun Johnson revert to the halfback position and the young gun Tui Lolohea slide in to five-eighth. The Bulldogs on the other hand have grown in to life with Josh Reynolds and Moses Mbye there conducting the symphony, a combination that, while they haven’t proved they can completely dominate a game, have proven they can spark the moments of individual brilliance required to turn a game on its’ head; moments that Shaun Johnson still has not been able to deliver this year.
The Bulldogs also have to contend with the notorious five day turnaround, a flight across the Tasman to boot.
The Warriors are still an almost unknown quantity: their inability to deliver on their potential has confused commentators and fans alike. The decision to take Robson away and put Lolohea at 5/8 only serves to exacerbate the inconsistency by taking away one of the few players known for consistency in the side, but it does mean the Warriors do have a bit more “oomph” in attack. That oomph does not look like it can topple the Belmore Wall unless they are done in by the turnaround, especially considering the Warriors of late have been flimsy in repelling opposition assaults.
Bulldogs by 12.
Bulldogs: 1 William Hopoate 2 Curtis Rona 3 Josh Morris 4 Kerrod Holland 5 Sam Perrett 6 Josh Reynolds 7 Moses Mbye 8 Aiden Tolman 9 Michael Lichaa 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
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Jonathan Wright 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Solomone Kata 5. David Fusitua 6. Tuimoala Lolohea 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Sam Lisone 9. Issac Luke 10. Ben Matulino 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Simon Mannering Interchange: 14. Thomas Leuluai 15. Jacob Lillyman 16. Charlie Gubb 17. Konrad Hurrell 18. Ligi Sao