The Canterbury Bulldogs have had the season from hell and yet miraculously they are no certainties for the wooden spoon. Plagued by a hampered roster due to salary cap restraints the line-up is in stark contrast to this round to the one that suited up in Round 1 and mostly gave the Storm a run for their money. The Club was left in disarray by previous board members and their coach and now they are left to pick up the pieces or not let too many more become so scattered.
With fan favourites in the Morris brothers moved on along with Woods and Mbye and the list goes on to the young Moses Suli who lasted less than two weeks! However, there has been shining lights this season in Rhyse Martin recently re-signed and in contention for Rookie of the Year and the emergence of an exciting young half pairing. Their fans deserve to see their side give everything in a push to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon and the effort is there, they are just lacking personnel in key positions in the spine.
The Wests Tigers not only defeated the table-topping Rabbitohs in Round 19 to further their top eight chances, the Raiders, Warriors and Panthers all lost further boosting their top eight chances. The Tigers fast start to the season was built on defence which had many believing they could make the eight and many would not be ruling them out just yet. The Return of prodigal son Robbie Farah has rejuvenated the hooking position with a host of players attempting to fulfill the role so far this season, none more ably than Farah.
2018 - Round 12 - Wests Tigers 14 def. Canterbury Bulldogs 10 at ANZ Stadium
2017 - Round 8 - Wests Tigers 18 def. Canterbury Bulldogs 12 at ANZ Stadium
2016 - Round 10 - Canterbury Bulldogs 36 def. Wests Tigers 4 at ANZ Stadium
2015 - Round 8 - Wests Tigers 38 def. Canterbury Bulldogs 14 at ANZ Stadium
2015 - Round 4 - Canterbury Bulldogs 25 def. Wests Tigers 24 at ANZ Stadium
From the recent fixtures it visible that these matches are played out ANZ Stadium only with the Bulldogs enjoying somewhat of a home advantage over their opponents every time. However it is the Wests Tigers with the slight advantage having won three of the last five and looking to make it four from six with their finals hopes still on the line.
|Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs||Wests Tigers|
|1||Will Hopoate||Moses Mbye|
|2||Brett Morris||David Nofoaluma|
|3||Josh Morris||Esan Marsters|
|4||Kerrod Holland||Kevin Naiqama|
|5||Reimis Smith||Corey Thompson|
|6||Lachlan Lewis||Benji Marshall|
|7||Jeremy-Marshall King||Luke Brooks|
|8||Aiden Tolman||Russell Packer|
|9||Michael Lichaa||Robbie Farah|
|10||David Klemmer||Ben Matulino|
|11||Josh Jackson||Michael Chee-Kam|
|12||Rhyse Martin||Luke Garner|
|13||Adam Elliott||Elijah Taylor|
|14||Fa’amanu Brown||Alex Twal|
|15||Greg Eastwood||Sauaso Sue|
|16||Ofahiki Ogden||Robbie Rochow|
|17||Danny Fualalo||Matthew Eisenhuth|
|18||Chris Smith||Jacob Liddle|
|19||Matthew Frawley||Chris McQueen|
|20||Francis Tualau||Pita Godinet|
|21||John Olive||Malakai Watene-Zelezniak|
The facts that matter
Looking to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon and some motivation it will be. The Bulldogs always play with fight and effort, however, they are lacking the personnel in key positions to kill off games and with a young spine it has only made things more difficult.
The Morris brothers will be up for a big match considering they are going to part ways with the Bulldogs at seasons end. If they can combine well with Hopoate at his roaming best, always supporting the play the Bulldogs may sneak a win.
The Bulldogs rank number three and five for set completion and possession respectively in the competition, however; they don't turn this into points regularly enough. Ball retention is a strength and with the season ending soon and the Bulldogs blooding new players and not much to lose they should be given licence to play what is in front of them to turn some of that possession into points.
The Bulldogs rank second for support play and the Tigers miss the most tackles of any club in the competition. Rhyse Martin and Will Hopoate can wreak havoc by supporting any line-breaks and forcing the Tigers last line of defence into errors.
The Tigers can still make the finals and the fact of the matter is they must win here to keep that hope and chance alive. Sitting on 20 points and with the Broncos, Panthers and Warriors all on 22 points, the Tigers need to avail of an easier fixture than the Broncos and maybe pray the Titans do them a favour on Sunday down the Gold Coast by defeating the Warriors.
Have beaten the Dragons and Rabbitohs in successive weeks who both sit at the top of the table, however, they lost in successive weeks to both the Raiders and Titans. With stronger personnel now on board with Farah and Mbye, their spine needs to take control and play to their ability to ensure they do not lapse into producing another sub-standard performance.
The Tigers rank second and fifth for kick metres and offloads respectively, which means they are able to gain good field position due to their second phase play and kicking game. If they can march down the field more often than not the Bulldogs line will be under immense pressure with the Tigers spine of Mbye, Marshall, Brooks and Farah whom could all kill the game early.
The Wests Tigers is hanging by a limb so expect them to come out firing, many of the Tigers reserves would be pushing or starting in the Bulldogs line-up and so the Tigers should get away with this one. I'm tipping the Tigers by 10 and praying the Morris brothers are not too keen on performing for their current employers before going separate ways come the end of the season.
Will the Tigers have enough to get the job done at ANZ Stadium or could the Bulldogs cause a sizeable upset? Let us know in the comments below.