The New Zealand Warriors and Canterbury Bulldogs will go head to head on Friday at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland. The two teams are sitting next to each other on the NRL ladder with the Warriors at 11 and the Bulldogs at 12. Both teams are a force to be reckoned with when they play to their full potential but the end result will lie with the team who comes out with the most passion and determination to win.
LAST TIME OUT
The Warriors are arguably the most inconsistent team in the competition, but when they play good – they play bloody good which is what we saw in round 14 when they outplayed the Gold Coast Titans 34-12. The Warriors had an added incentive to win, as the match was also veteran second-rower Ryan Hoffman’s 300th NRL game. The team took full advantage of the Titans errors and displayed strength in their attack while making seven line-breaks and scoring six tries. The Warrior’s were exciting to watch as they performed with enthusiasm in old-school Warriors style and their attack proved too much for the Titans who were sorely missing their captain Ryan James within their defensive line.
The Canterbury Bulldogs played quality football in round 14 and won against St George Illawarra Dragons 16-2 while proving they are not a team to be taken lightly. The Bulldogs defense was tight and impossible to break through as the only points the Dragons managed to score throughout the entire 80 were two points from a penalty goal in the 20th minute. The Bulldogs have been having issues with their attack but against the Dragons they managed to dominate both halves and made 201 runs to the Dragons 158 even though both teams had roughly the same possession rate.
The Bulldogs have the NRL’s worst attack as their average points per game this season is 13.8 and they are yet to score more than 24 points in a game this season. Although the Warriors are no strangers to having an off game – when they play well, their attacking game is one of the strongest and most difficult to read in the competition. The key battle will be whether the Bulldogs are able to hold out the Warriors attack for long enough to get some points of their own on the board if they want to stay in the game and have a chance to come out on top.
Taking into account this match will be held at the Warriors home ground and the bulldogs have struggled to score points this season, I’m going to put my money on the Warriors to take the win. There is the possibility the Bulldogs impenetrable defense could be the decider – as we know if the other team can’t score points they can’t beat you – but I believe the Warrior’s are the safe bet for round 16.
Warriors by 8
WARRIORS V BULLDOGS
Friday 23 June, 6pm at Mt Smart Stadium
Warriors: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 3 Blake Ayshford, 4 David Fusitu’a, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Kieran Foran, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 Jacob Lillyman, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Bodene Thompson, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Simon Mannering. Interchange: 14 Nathaniel Roache, 15 Sam Lisone, 16 Albert Vete, 17 Bunty Afoa, 18 James Gavet, 20 Manu Vatuvei, 21 Ligi Sao, 22 Mafoa’aeata Hingano
Bulldogs: 1 . William Hopoate 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Chase Stanley 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Moses Mbye 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Adam Elliot 13. David Klemmer 14. Sam Kasiano 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Greg Eastwood 17. Matt Frawley 19. Francis Tualau 20. Kerrod Holland 21. Asipeli Fine 22. Raymond Faitala-Mariner