Bulldogs v Wests Tigers
IF there’s been one disappointment in the competition so far, it’s been the form of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. While the blue and whites have been decimated by injury at various stages of the season, the nucleus of their very successful 2009 team has been underperforming in 2010. The ’Dogs have chalked up only three wins in the past 13 rounds, and are sitting at 13th on the ladder alongside the Cowboys and the Sharks.
Their opponents the Wests Tigers have had some memorable games this season – some for the right reasons, like their Round 12 thrashing of the Warriors, and some for the wrong reasons, like their 50-10 loss to South Sydney. Despite their up-and-down form, the Tigers are coming off the back of successive wins and a newfound confidence. With a woeful performance by the Bulldogs in their first half against the Storm last week, this game could toss up a very interesting result.
Watch out Bulldogs: The Tigers can, and will, score from anywhere. They have totalled 48 line-breaks in 11 games, making them dangerous to a rushing defence. (Benji Marshall has been the orchestrator of nine of those line-breaks and made five himself, and has freakishly broken out of 50 tackles so far this season.)
The Bulldogs are one of the worst teams in the competition at stopping offloads, tallying 265 ineffective tackles, which if continued is sure to give the Tigers plenty of room to move.
Also, the ’Dogs have contributed nine poor chases in their games so far, which also hints that if the Tigers can get the ball out to a speedster like Beau Ryan or Lote Tuqiri early in a kick-return set, the Bulldogs will be made to pay.
While the Bulldogs have surprisingly only conceded 50 penalties – the lowest number in the competition – they have a tendency to concede them late in the tackle count. They need to watch that.
If the Tigers can build pressure through repeat sets, you can bet it’s going to go through the hands – neither Marshall or Robbie Farah are big kickers close to the line, with only five of their tries this season coming off the boots of these two playmakers. With susceptible defence on both edges of the field, Tuqiri and Daniel Fitzenhry on the wings could be in for a productive night.
Watch out Wests Tigers: It will come as a surprise to most Bulldogs fans to learn their team’s attacking statistics are actually quite good. The ’Dogs have made 57 line-breaks and scored 42 tries in 2010; 13 of these tries have resulted from kicks – the third highest return in the competition – which makes them potent when in an attacking field position. Expect Brett Kimmorley to pepper the Tigers’ defence with grubbers and cross-field bombs, with the Bulldogs scoring half their tries in the opposition’s 0-10 metre zone.
Although targeting Benji Marshall can sometimes lead to great pain for an opposition, he is the most likely Wests Tiger to be found out in defence, missing 30 and making 15 ineffective tackles so far this season.
If there are any lazy defenders around the middle of the park, Michael Ennis and new recruit Joel Romelo are fast enough from dummy-half to split the opposition defence and create chances.
Adding to this are the great figures of the Bulldogs backline – while they have found it hard to find the tryline this year Jamal Idris, Steve Turner, Bryson Goodwin and Josh Morris have made 23 line-breaks between them. The law of averages says they have to make it over the stripe at some point!
Where it will be won: It’s trite, but up the middle. Field position is everything, and as the Bulldogs have learned in their past few losses, you can’t win a match when you’re trapped in your own half.
With their two favoured props in Ben Hannant and Michael Hodgson starting for the ’Dogs, they may have more impact in cracking the Tigers defensively. But it’s not enough to just try to keep the Tigers in their territory – one sidestep is often all it takes for a try. The Bulldogs’ defence has been sloppy on occasion, and they just can’t afford that against this quality attacking team.
The history: Played 19; Bulldogs 11, Wests Tigers 8. Both teams have ANZ Stadium as a stamping ground, which makes the head-to-head record at the ground fairly even, the Bulldogs winning five and the Tigers four. The Bulldogs were last-start winners at ANZ in 2009.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) for both sides, their biggest wins and losses against each other have come at ANZ – The Bulldogs defeating the Tigers by 35 points in 2006, and the Tigers beating the Bulldogs by 52 points in 2005.
Conclusion: If you were picking on form, the Tigers would be clear favourites. Although their season has been patchy at best, they still have two wins in a row under their belt, and any team that puts 50 on the opposition has got to win some favour.
The Tigers can be absolutely lethal if they’re in the right mood – and the Bulldogs have to be weary about allowing them to get too far in front, unless they want to be looking at a cricket score.
However, what makes this match unpredictable is that the Bulldogs are suddenly faced with the proposition of “must-win” games. Although their execution has been off, their stats haven’t been too far from the mark, and every Bulldogs fan is waiting for the team to click. Whether they do or not is another matter – but with time running out, expect them to lift.
Match officials: Referees – Shayne Hayne & Alan Shortall; Sideline officials – Russell Turner & Adam Devcich; Video referee – Bill Harrigan.
Televised: Channel 9 – Live 7.30pm (NSW & Qld).
westTAHger last edited by
am worried about this game.
mental attitude will be a major factor in this one.
bulldogs will be ready give it their all.
hopefully wests-tigers can match it, be patient/defend well and the good result should follow.
Our guys on a high after last week although against little opposition, they did play well.
Bulldogs basically full on troops and looking to save their season.
I’d love to be there and cheer the boys on to what hopefully is a hard fought victory.
Canterbury-Bankstown v Wests Tigers, ANZ Stadium, Friday, 7.35pm (EST)
The Bulldogs have hit rock bottom and are really struggling to find any confidence. They are now taking on a Tigers outfit that were in exactly the same position a few weeks back, but have managed to turn it around. It’s desperation time and I think the Bulldogs will respond. I haven’t been convinced with the Tigers so this clash should provide Tim Sheens’s men with their biggest test. The Tigers probably have more points in them, but I see the Bulldogs getting up in their face and grinding out a much-needed win.
What a surprise, against us again.
He also tipping:
EELS vs Storm
KNIGHTS vs Panthers
TITANS vs Raiders
BRONCOS vs Eagles
He also tipping:
EELS vs Storm
KNIGHTS vs Panthers
TITANS vs Raiders
BRONCOS vs Eagles
Bulldogs are bad at stopping the off-load…that’s good, because we’re bad at throwing them.
Michael Ennis is good at making yards out of dummy half? The 22 metres a game average he has begs to differ.
They were in exactly the same predicament as last time we played them and im scared the boys will play them into form again!!
“the nucleus of their very successful 2009 team has been underperforming in 2010.”
And yet, it was also the nucleus of the SOO 1 NSW team!
BeeJay last edited by
I’m a little bit worried about this game. If there is ever a team that can play another team back into form its the tigers. Both teams are coming into this game in the same situation as the first time we played each other earlier in the season. The bulldogs are struggling and the tigers have a bit of momentum. However last time we were coming into the game off a taxing road trip to canberra and townsville which showed in the end of the match when the score blew out.
I’m glad that there hasnt been any ennis vs farah talk. Farah seems to try a bit too hard when coming up against ennis, he just needs to play his natural game and he’ll cone up trumps.
I’m also glad no one has mentioned the possibility of gibbs vs hannant round 2. We don’t need to add any more motivation for their forwards to aim up.
Wet track will not help our cause, big game for both teams, a win see us on the road to a top five or better finish a loss see us back fighting for 7th or 8th. The dogs well it close to curtains if they loose this one. The two days extra turn around will be good for us, I just think they may be more desperate, its not like they have a crap playing roster
system last edited by
It is a danger game but jeez Daley is a douche.
By his selections I would guess that Bailey & Laffranchi are likely being looked at for SOO II
The Tigers probably have more points in them, but I see the Bulldogs getting up in their face and grinding out a much-needed win.
This makes NO sense…. we have more points… but they grind out a win… huh
It is amazing how people think Ennis makes meters from dummy half… The Tigers need to rush these clowns, they’ve got no speed in the halves and Ennis’ isn’t smart enough to run it, his game plan revolves around passing it to Kimmorley. They won’t take on the line and if they do, they’ll make 10 - 20m before we cut em down.