Currently sitting in 12th place, the Wests Tigers head into their clash with the Bulldogs needing a win to stay within reach of the top 8. Since snapping a six-game losing streak in round 9 with a 30-22 win against the Rabbitohs, the Tigers haven’t suffered consecutive defeats. However, the absence of Tedesco, Woods and Farah, as well as a season-ending injury to the club’s other hooker, Matt Balin, means the Tigers will need to dig deep against a Bulldogs outfit who are charging towards September.
The Bulldogs have been inconsistent so far this season back the return of Brett Morris has coincided with an upturn in form for the side who now find themselves in 4th place. A win for the Bulldogs will see them consolidate their position but possibly draw level with the Cowboys depending on their result, but a loss could see them drop to 7th.
LAST TIME OUT
The Bulldogs were slow out of the blocks in their 24-20 win against the lowly placed Roosters. However, a dominate 15 minute periods either side of the break were good enough to get the job. The backline looked more balanced with Brett Morris on the wing, Rona in the centres with Holland left out of the side. What would have been encouraging for Des Hasler would have been the kicking from Mbye. The halfback was flawless from the tee, converting all four tries – including difficult chances from the touchline.
The Tigers managed to mount a comeback against the Panthers to win 34-26. Like their opponents for this weekend, the Tigers impressed either side of halftime to turn a 14-2 deficit into a 34-14 lead. Wests managed to share the tries around, but Tedesco set up two tries and will surely be the player missed the most this weekend.
Josh Morris v Kevin Naiqama
Both sides have key forwards missing and boast impressive young halves, but this battle will determine who can put tries on the board. Both these centres have quality wingers outside of them – Brett Morris and Josh Addo-Carr. Josh set up two tries for his twin brother against the Roosters in their first performance together this season, considering Josh has only three try assists for the year, it is quite a significant number.
Naiqama already has seven tries to his name this season and five try assists. The centre who stands at 179cm (perhaps 190cm if you include his hair) has been an attacking outlet for the Tigers, and the man who was given the task to contain Greg Inglis in Origin I will be marking the Fijian international.
That side of the field has the potential for a lot of tries to be scored and whoever wins that battle should win the match for their team.
Last weeks both sides performed well in that 30 minute period on either side of halftime but struggled outside of that. With both teams at full strength this would be a tough match to predict but with the Tigers missing Woods and Tedesco, the Bulldogs should be able secure their third successive win. A rolled ankle to Tedesco’s replacement, Jordan Rankin, doesn’t help the Tigers cause.
Bulldogs by 10.
Bulldogs: 1. William Hopoate 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Curtis Rona 5. Sam Perrett 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Moses Mbye 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. James Graham 11. Asipeli Fine 12. Greg Eastwood 13. Danny Fualalo. Interchange: 14. Sam Kasiano 15. Tony Williams 16. Tim Browne 17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 19. Kerrod Holland 21. Craig Garvey
Tigers: 1. Jordan Rankin 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Tim Simona 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Mitchell Moses 7. Luke Brooks 8. Tim Grant 9. Dene Halatau 10. Sauaso Sue 11. Josh Aloiai 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Elijah Taylor. Interchange: 14. JJ Felise 15. Ava Seumanufagai 16. Michael Chee-Kam 17. Kyle Lovett 18. Joel Edwards
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