It’s a battle of the competition’s current lightweights as the 15th placed Bulldogs go up against the 16th placed Eels at ANZ Stadium.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Deciding to switch things up a little, the Bulldogs dropped Michael Lichaa and injected some new blood into the team with Rhyse Martin making his debut in the back-row against the Broncos. The latter began his NRL career with a dream start, scoring the first try as the Bulldogs won the first half 14-6.
Controversy surrounding some officiating decisions in the 2nd half like Isaako dropping a ball which was deemed backwards on the field despite looking like a blatant knock-on and the sin-binning of Moses Mbye pushing Boyd in the back dominated all the headlines.
Regardless of how the match was decided, the Bulldogs were consigned to a third straight loss in a game that was there to be won.
The Eels had started to introduce a bit of spark back into their season after a 2 match winning streak against the Sea Eagles and Tigers. However against the Sharks they put in a poor performance for all but the final 10 minutes. Down 22-4 the Eels mounted a sudden surge and scored 3 tries in the final 7 minutes with Mitchell Moses crossing on the siren to get a chance to level the game with a conversion. He missed but the Eels poor defence earlier in the match had cost them.
Rhyse Martin shifts to the middle at Lock in his second game of NRL while Josh Jackson returns to the starting side in the back-row. Clay Priest has been dropped with Renouf Toomaga to play his first game of the season off the bench.
Kaysa Pritchard is out with a groin injury with Will Smith shifting to the dummy half position. Co-captain Tim Mannah is out for 3-4 weeks with a fractured eye socket. Siosaia Vave takes his place on the bench.
Look for Cameron King in the #18 jersey to be a potential late inclusion. Will Smith running out at Hooker for the full 80 minutes may not pan out although the Eels are going to need to all the forwards they can get to match it with the Dogs pack.
Kieran Foran vs Mitchell Moses.
In recent weeks the Dogs forwards have been making the metres but the creative players haven’t been able to deliver points. In the case of Foran he’s so far been unable to deliver on the price tag and at times it’s like he’s been invisible in the team. He’s going to need to step up big time and add to his meagre tally of try assist, having registered just one solitary assist for the year. No half in the comp engages the line more than Foran but it’s what he’s able to produce from it that matters more.
Moses had a shocker of a start to the season much like his team as a whole but found some form over the last fortnight. He left it very late to stamp his mark on the game against the Sharks though. If he can take control of the game early, it’ll go a long way towards helping the Eels to victory. As long as his forwards give him the room to work with, he can make himself a dangerous threat if he takes on the line and the right passes find their mark.
With that said the Eels forward pack are going to need to put in a top-notch performance as they face a Dogs side with bigger forwards than what they have. Mobility and creativity is going to be the Eels answer to the brute force of the Dogs.
The Eels have won their last 4 encounters against the Bulldogs.
Bulldogs: 1 Moses Mbye, 2 Brett Morris, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Will Hopoate, 5 Marcelo Montoya, 6 Matt Frawley, 7 Kieran Foran, 8 Aaron Woods, 9 Jeremy Marshall-King, 10 David Klemmer, 11 Josh Jackson ©, 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 13 Rhyse Martin
Interchange: 14 Adam Elliott, 15 Danny Fualalo, 16 Renouf Toomaga, 17 Kerrod Holland
Reserves: 18 John Olive, 19 Clay Priest, 20 Asipeli Fine, 21 Michael Lichaa
Eels: 1 Clint Gutherson ©, 2 Bevan French, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Brad Takairangi, 5 George Jennings, 6 Corey Norman, 7 Mitchell Moses, 8 Daniel Alvaro, 9 Will Smith, 10 Suaia Matagi, 11 Manu Ma’u, 12 Tepai Moeroa, 13 Peni Terepo
Interchange: 14 Beau Scott ©, 15 Kenny Edwards, 16 David Gower, 17 Siosaia Vave
Reserves: 18 Cameron King, 19 Kirisome Auva’a, 20 Josh Hoffman, 21 Marata Niukore
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 11th May
Venue: ANZ Stadium
WHO WILL WIN?