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2021 NRL Round Four Preview, Bulldogs Vs Rabbitohs

Matt Attard previews the now-traditional Good Friday afternoon clash at Stadium Australia. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Stadium Australia, Date: Friday, April 2, Time: 4:05pm

Bulldogs Team

  1. Nick Meaney
  2. Corey Allan
  3. Will Hopoate
  4. Nick Cotric
  5. Tuipulotu Katoa
  6. Lachlan Lewis
  7. Kyle Flanagan
  8. Dylan Napa
  9. Sione Katoa
  10. Jack Hetherington
  11. Adam Elliott
  12. Corey Waddell
  13. Renouf Atoni
  14. Jackson Topine
  15. Dean Britt
  16. Joe Stimson
  17. Ofahiki Ogden
  18. Jake Averillo
  19. Chris Smith
  20. Brandon Wakeham
  21. Matt Doorey

Team Changes

IN: Brandon Wakeham, Chris Smith, Dean Britt, Jackson Topine, Lachlan Lewis, Matt Doorey.
OUT: Jeremy Marshall-King, Josh Jackson.

Rabbitohs Team

  1. Latrell Mitchell
  2. Alex Johnston
  3. Dane Gagai
  4. Campbell Graham
  5. Josh Mansour
  6. Cody Walker
  7. Adam Reynolds
  8. Thomas Burgess
  9. Damien Cook
  10. Tevita Tatola
  11. Keaon Koloamatangi
  12. Jaydn Su’A
  13. Cameron Murray
  14. Benji Marshall
  15. Mark Nicholls
  16. Patrick Mago
  17. Jai Arrow
  18. Jacob Host
  19. Dean Hawkins
  20. Troy Dargan
  21. Steven Marsters

Team Changes

IN: Dean Hawkins, Jacob Host, Steven Marsters, Troy Dargan.
OUT:

Referee: Grant Atkins

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Bulldogs

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What can be said to describe the Bulldogs’ performance against the Broncos? In stark contrast to their first two games of the season, their round three match in Brisbane was riddled with ineptitude. They had plenty of ball and plenty of chances, yet failed to muster a single point. They bombed an easy try and the Broncos, who were also terrible, threw nothing at them until the final 20 minutes. 

Trent Barrett is doing his best, but unfortunately the players aren’t playing for one another it seems. There is a serious lack of fitness, determination, cohesion and passion in the famous blue and white jersey. 

New rules and time to gel is no longer an excuse. They’ve had a long pre-season and those excuses can’t be used for the lack of harmony on the field.

Rabbitohs

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They’re a team on fire after a massive victory over their arch rivals the Sydney Roosters last week. Latrell Mitchell is proving his fullback doubters (myself included) wrong with starring performances in the number one jersey, which is complimented by the skill and speed of Cody Walker and his fellow outside backs. Throw in a monster forward pack that includes Jai Arrow having to play off the bench and you have the makings of a serious premiership contender.

They’ve had a small hiccup in round one but have looked brilliant since then. I was one of their many doubters given their 2020 inconsistencies, but Wayne Bennett has them raring to go this year.

PREVIEW

The Bulldogs have failed to click in attack while the Rabbitohs are thriving. Mitchell and Walker form the most dangerous combination in the NRL. This match, to put it nicely, will be a massacre for Barrett’s men. 

Not only are the Bulldogs playing horrible football in every area of the game, they’ve been forced into several changes due to injury and suspension. The Bunnies are settled while the Bulldogs look miles away from where they need to be.

KEY STAT

Historically these match-ups end as low-scoring affairs. A 42-12 victory to the Bulldogs in 2016 is the last time a decent score has been racked up. In 2019, the teams traded 14-6 victories with one another, while last year they shared the spoils again from two encounters.

I’m not sure if it’s the fact both clubs are renowned for big forward pack battles, but it’s hard to see that trend of low-scoring games continuing.

PREDICTION

While the home side defeated the Rabbitohs in round 19 last year to hand the wooden spoon to the Broncos, that won’t be the case here.

Rabbitohs by 42.

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