Friday night’s matches for round 10 conclude with a classic and traditional rivalry, featuring the Bulldogs and the Eels at ANZ Stadium. There is sure to be an abundance of fireworks in this match from both sides, as well as an abundance of passion from the respective supporters, as is always the case whenever these teams meet, regardless of their ladder positions.
The Doggies head into this match reeling from a controversial defeat at the hands of the Broncos, which prompted coach Dean Pay to give the referees a post-match spray, in which he would be slapped with a fine in the process. They were in the box seat to win the match, leading 14-6 at halftime, and level at 20-all near full time. Unfortunately, a contentious (but correct) penalty would be awarded against the Dogs for a push by fullback, Moses Mbye, on his opposite number, Darius Boyd. The Broncos would kick the ensuing penalty goal, resulting in a 22-20 loss to the blue and whites.
For the Eels, they are smarting from a loss to the Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium last Saturday night. The scoreline was actually identical to that of their opponents for this match. However, unlike their bitter rivals, the Eels were never really in the match until the final 10 minutes, where they scored three tries to put themselves in a position to level the match, through a Mitchell Moses conversation. Unfortunately for the blue and golds, the conversion attempt would sail wide and they were consigned to their seventh defeat for the season.
With one team feeling robbed of a match which was theirs for the taking, up against another team who very nearly forced a match into golden point but were never really in that match, there are sure to be even more fireworks present in a fixture already packed with an abundance of passion. As such, you can expect both teams to rip in and tear shreds off each other.
2017 - Round 22 - Parramatta Eels 20 def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 4 at ANZ Stadium.
2017 - Round 17 - Parramatta Eels 13 def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 12 at ANZ Stadium.
2016 - Round 9 - Parramatta Eels 20 def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 12 at ANZ Stadium.
2016 - Round 3 - Parramatta Eels 20 def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 6 at ANZ Stadium.
2015 - Round 19 - Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 28 def. Parramatta Eels 4 at ANZ Stadium.
In the most recent encounters between the two old enemies, it is the Eels who have had the upper hand, winning four of the last five encounters. However, in the overall contests between the two sides, the Bulldogs have won 82 of these matches, with 65 victories going the way of the Eels, followed by 5 draws (1953, 1962, 1976, 1992 and 2001).
Moreover, Dean Pay spent large parts of his career at both clubs and is well regarded by supporters of both clubs, despite the fierce rivalry between them. He will be coaching against the other of his former clubs for the first time, and will therefore experience firsthand the feeling of being a head coach in such a match.
In addition, the Eels last won a premiership in 1986 (the year this writer was born), and their opponents that day were none other than the Bulldogs. As such, despite the lack of premiership success by the blue and golds since the mid 1980s, they can gloat that they have won a premiership over a bitter rival.
|Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs||Parramatta Eels|
|1||Moses Mbye||Clint Gutherson|
|2||Brett Morris||Bevan French|
|3||Josh Morris||Michael Jennings|
|4||Will Hopoate||Brad Takairangi|
|5||Marcelo Montoya||George Jennings|
|6||Matt Frawley||Corey Norman|
|7||Kieran Foran||Mitchell Moses|
|8||Aaron Woods||Daniel Alvaro|
|9||Jeremy Marshall-King||Will Smith|
|10||David Klemmer||Suaia Matagi|
|11||Josh Jackson||Manu Ma'u|
|12||Raymond Faitala-Mariner||Tepai Moeroa|
|13||Rhyse Martin||Peni Terepo|
|14||Adam Elliott||Beau Scott|
|15||Danny Fualalo||Kenny Edwards|
|16||Renouf To'omaga||David Gower|
|17||Kerrod Holland||Siosaia Vave|
|18||John Olive||Cameron King|
|19||Clay Priest||Kirisome Auva'a|
|20||Asipeli Fine||Josh Hoffman|
|21||Michael Lichaa||Marata Niukore|
The facts that matter
The Bulldogs had victory snatched from them in one of the cruelest possible manners last week, when they were penalised so close to their own try line in the dying minutes. The Broncos took full advantage by kicking a penalty goal to secure a 22-20 victory. However, unfortunately for the Dogs, the decision was actually the correct one, as the push by Moses Mbye was there, despite how minimal the contact was.
Moreover, the Dogs were deservedly up 14-6 at the break, and 20-14 with 6 minutes remaining. As such, they were in positions to win the match, but they would allow the Broncos into the match, and twice draw level, which obviously did not do any favours for them. In addition, they were dominated in the metres gained department, made fewer line breaks and offloads, missed more tackles, conceded more penalties and committed more errors. Therefore, the Dogs really did not deserve to win the match, despite the controversy surrounding their match, and the bravery they displayed.
For all their bravery and the closeness of their match, the Bulldogs now find themselves in 15th place, with a record of two wins and seven losses. They are rather fortunate to not find themselves at the bottom, given their opponents lost their match last week. Moreover, the only team below them on the ladder is their opponents and rivals, the Eels. In addition, the Bulldogs have the second worst attack in the NRL, scoring only 137 points for this season. Only the Eels have scored fewer points, with 134 for the season.
Regardless of the closeness of the final score in their match last week against the Sharks, the Eels were fairly disappointing and were actually set for a rather comprehensive defeat. It was only in the final 10 minutes, when the Eels suddenly decided to play the footy that saw them win two consecutive matches. They would score three quick fire tries, to give them a chance of sending the match into golden point. Unfortunately, halfback Mitchell Moses pushed his crucial conversion attempt from the sideline wide of the posts, thereby consigning them to a 22-20 loss.
Similar to their opponents for this match, the Eels were dominated by the Sharks in the vital statistics, such as metres gained, line breaks and completion rate. Moreover, the Eels missed 33 tackles and committed 12 errors to the Sharks’ 8. As such, the aforementioned key stats hurt the Eels chances of winning last week’s match. Prior to last week’s match, the Eels appeared to get back on track with successive victories over the Sea Eagles and Tigers. Therefore, with their loss last week, the Eels squandered the chance to climb off the bottom of the ladder, where they find themselves for another week.
They have the worst attack in the NRL, having scored a lowly 134 points this season. They also have the 4th worst defence, conceding 206 points thus far. Only the Titans, Knights and Sea Eagles have conceded more points than the Eels. One motivating factor in this match for the Eels in this match is that they can hand last place to the Bulldogs with victory in this match.
Despite the lowly position of both teams, there will be no shortage of fireworks from either side, given the existing rivalry between the combatants. Both teams will want to rip into each other, given the Bulldogs feel they had been robbed of a match which they believed was theirs for the taking, whereas the Eels feel that they could have snatched a miraculous victory last week.
Undoubtedly, Mitchell Moses will have been closely practicing his goal kicking, should he find himself in a similar position this week. And given the Eels can relinquish last place on the ladder to the Dogs with a victory in this game, every point will be crucial in determining the final outcome. However, the Doggies have demonstrated throughout their history that they thrive on adversity better than most, especially when employing their “Dogs of War” mentality.
As such, whilst I expect the Eels to rip in to their rivals, in an attempt to relinquish bottom place, I believe that the controversy surrounding last week’s defeat will spur the Doggies into brutal action, and coupled with employing their “Dogs of War” mentality, I think these factors should see them home by the slightest of margins. Bulldogs by 1.
Can the Bulldogs bank a much-needed win or will the Eels upset Dean Pay's men at ANZ Stadium? Let us know in the comments below.