The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will be out for their first win of the season this Monday night against the Cronulla Sharks at ANZ Stadium.
The Bulldogs were defeated 18-12 in Round 1 against the Broncos, while the Sharks also came away with a loss after going down 18-12 to the Titans.
When these two sides met last year, the dogs came out on top with a 24-8 victory. If statistics are anything to go by, the home side are blessed with a strong record against the visitors, winning seven from their last eight and 13 of the past 16 clashes against Cronulla.
All the talk this week has been about the signing of New South Wales and Australian representative Andrew Fifita but inspirational leader Josh Reynolds believes it won’t be a distraction for his side.
“It’s a great signing for the club. He’s a forward at the peak of his game. That’s going to take place next year, but we’ve got a game on Monday night and we can’t really think about that at the moment,” said Reynolds.
Both sides are under strength coming into the game. The Bulldogs are still without Sam Kasiano (ankle) & Greg Eastwood (foot); whilst the Sharks lose their captain Paul Gallen (ankle) & Andrew Fifita (suspension).
Reynolds believes that while Cronulla are missing some players, there could still be some problems.
“Gal (Gallen) and Fif (Fifita) are great players, there’s always someone that steps up and does a great job, it’s probably a bit harder because we’re not too sure who’s going to come in,” said Reynolds.
The Bulldogs have named an un-changed side for this week, with coach Des Hasler keeping the faith despite the close loss to Brisbane.
Chase Stanley impressed the ‘Blue and White’ faithful after a stellar debut for his new club. The right centre showed his skills and second phase ability with 3 offloads for the match, putting pressure on injured backs Tim Lafai (hand), Krisnan Inu (jaw) and Drury Low (hand).
New recruit and monstrous forward Pat O’Hanlon provided strong hit-ups and enthusiasm off the bench, partnering up with fellow behemoths David Klemmer and Tim Browne to fill the hole left by Kasiano and Eastwood.
Key Match Ups
Centres: Josh Morris V Blake Ayshford
It took Josh Morris a few rounds to find his way to the try line last year but in 2014, Morris has come back from the Rugby League World Cup with some more confidence. He scored a brilliant leaping try last week against the Broncos, but was contained well by opposing centre Dale Copley. This week he’ll face a tough up and coming player in Blake Ayshford. Moving to Cronulla from the Tigers this year, Ayshford has found a home at right centre and will look to get some early ball against the NSW right centre Morris.
Back Row: Tony Williams V Wade Graham
With regular captain Paul Gallen out for up to six weeks with an ankle injury, Wade Graham will step up and lead his side. Gallen missed a big part of season 2013 to injury and representative honours, but Graham filled in extremely well for the skipper and is a future representative back rower. Tony Williams scored a brilliant try against the Broncos last week when he received a beautiful short ball close to the line. T-Rex showed some great touches last week and looks like he’s healthy and ready to break some tackles this year.
Reynolds is confident that his team will bounce back from the loss last week, and will look to better their opening rounds of last season.
“There’s a great feeling about this one, we’re going to go out there and prove to ourselves that we’re worthy and to come home with a gusty win on Monday night,” said Reynolds.
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