The Dragons and Bulldogs will face off in a rare Monday afternoon game at ANZ Stadium. The two strong, top-8 contenders should provide an entertaining show in a round that is not affected by State of Origin.
Last Time Out
The Dragons should be well refreshed after their bye week and pumped up following their win over the Cowboys in round 13. The Dragons maintained their trademark toughness against the depleted Cowboys to scrape out a win, but with their team being mostly unaffected by State of Origin, it questions their ability to contend against full strength, high quality teams. The Dragons will still be without Josh Dugan, but Jack De Belin is likely to be a late inclusion. Benji Marshall also seems to have overcome his injury issues and will be looking to have a big game with his future on the line.
The Doggies were unlucky to be defeated in the last few minutes against the Sharks but proved they can play well against the best teams in the competition. The forward pack had a huge impact on the game with James Graham, Josh Jackson, and David Klemmer running for over 500 metres between them. Will Hopoate looked extremely sharp after having almost a month long rest from playing NRL football.
Jack De Belin vs. David Klemmer
While De Belin’s return is still unconfirmed, this battle would be extremely entertaining. De Belin has the averages 39.1 tackles per game, the third most in the NRL, and only has 7 missed tackles through the entire season so far. Klemmer on the other hand averages 174 metres per game, the second most in the NRL, and has been particularly devastating since moving to lock. This battle in the centre of the field will be the ultimate battle between defence and offence.
This contest could end up an example of an unstoppable force against an immovable object. While the Dragons haven’t quite been the same defensive juggernaut they were this time last year, they have still been strong in 2015. The Bulldogs have also been patchy in 2016 but if they continue their recent form they will be very difficult to slow down. I think the doggies power down the middle will shatter the Dragons’ defensive prowess; however, if Benji Marshall and Gareth Widdop step up the Dragons could easily run away with the game. Based on recent performances, I would say the Bulldogs will win convincingly.
Bulldogs by 10.
Dragons: 1 Jason Nightingale 2 Kalifa Faifai Loa 3 Euan Aitken 4 Timoteo Lafai 5 Kurt Mann 6 Gareth Widdop 7 Benji Marshall 8 Leeson Ah Mau 9 Mitch Rein 10 Russell Packer 11 Tyson Frizell 12 Joel Thompson 13 Michael Cooper. Interchange: 14 Dunamis Lui 15 Will Matthews 16 Siliva Havili 17 Jacob Marketo
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 Raymond Faitala 13 David Klemmer. Interchange: 14 Sam Kasiano 15 Adam Elliott 16 Tim Browne 17 Craig Garvey