Matt Attard previews the Saturday night game between Canterbury-Bankstown and the Wests Tigers.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
If the competition winners were measured on heart and effort, the Bulldogs would be well up there. A young team going through a rebuild has, to be expected, lingered at the bottom of the table. Recently they’ve hit a patch of form that saw them push the premiers all the way and defeat the Panthers on the back of goal line defence. They’ll be primed for another big one.
Robbie Farah’s retirement announcement and 300th game has given Wests the spark they’ve lacked for much of the season. They crushed North Queensland last start and have been buoyed by the form of Benji Marshall, Farah and Luke Brooks. This, coupled with the Bulldogs’ form, should see an exciting brand of football played this weekend.
Adam Elliot is sidelined with a finger injury, elevating Chris Smith to the starting line-up with former gun forward Raymond Faitala-Mariner given a chance to prove himself after an off-season spent mostly in reserve grade.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs’ squad: 1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Nick Meaney 3. Kerrod Holland 4. Will Hopoate 5. Reimis Smith 6. Jack Cogger 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Corey Harawira-Naera 13. Chris Smith 14. Jeremy Marshall-King 15. Renouf To’omaga 16. Danny Fualalo 17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 19. Kayne Kalache 20. Brendan Wakeham 21. Jayden Okunbor 22. Ofahiki Ogden.
Unchanged from their last start demolishing of North Queensland, they don’t anticipate any late changes.
Wests Tigers’ squad: 1. Corey Thompson 2. Paul Momirovski 3. Moses Mbye 4. Esan Marsters 5. David Nofoaluma 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Robbie Farah 10. Oliver Clark 11. Luke Garner 12. Michael Chee Kam 13. Ryan Matterson 14. Matt Eisenhuth 15. Thomas Mikaele 16. Alex Twal 17. Chris Lawrence 18. Jacob Liddle 19. Tommy Talau 20. Elijah Taylor 21. Josh Reynolds.
HEAD TO HEAD
Wests are the clear favourites against an inconsistent Bulldogs outfit, but the ‘Dogs are unlucky to be such large underdogs given their recent form. In round three the Bulldogs kick-started their season with a big win over the Tigers, 22-8. It was round 12 last year that the Tigers last defeated the Bulldogs, 14-10.
The hookers. Both Robbie Farah and Michael Lichaa are proud Lebanese representatives.
One is hanging up the boots at season’s end, while the other is desperately in need of a club for 2020. Farah’s big milestone has passed, but his form hasn’t. The 35-year-old has scored 6 tries and set up 7 more this year, while tackling at 97 per cent – an outstanding success rate. Lichaa has spent much of the year in reserve grade, where he excelled and earned many man of the match awards. Back in first grade he has been solid without being a game winner. He’ll be looking to impress possible suitors by running more from dummy half, a strength of his that is rarely seen.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday, August 10th, 2019.
Venue: ANZ Stadium.
Referees: Peter Gough, Chris Butler.
WHO WILL WIN?
It should be a cracking contest between two teams who are coming off strong wins, each built on different foundations. Wests’ attacking prowess was in full flight against the Cowboys, completing at 84 per cent and making 6 clean line breaks. The Bulldogs’ win was built on defence, having to constantly repel the Panthers’ attack for basically all of the second half. Both teams are notorious for dips in form, so this one is a tipster’s nightmare.
Tip: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs by 10.