RD5 NRL Preview
Canterbury Bulldogs captain Michael Ennis plays his 200th first grade game this Friday night against the 2013 NRL Premiers, Sydney Roosters.
Fifth plays sixth as both the Bulldogs and the Roosters look for their third win of the season at Allianz Stadium.
Canterbury were big victors in Round 4, getting up 40-12 against the previously unbeaten Melbourne Storm last Saturday where seven players scored tries including Josh Jackson, Tim Lafai, James Graham, Chase Stanley Trent Hodkinson, David Klemmer and Josh Morris .
The Bulldogs rank first in the NRL for all runs made, points for, points against, conversions and points differential. They also rank 2nd for offloads and 5th for tackle busts. These impressive statistics come down to the strong start side and bench rotation that has seen the Bulldogs defeat Melbourne and Cronulla (Semi Finalists 2013) by an average of 33 points.
Playing against his former club, prop Aiden Tolman had an absolute blinder, making 183m from 21 hit-ups and 33 tackles in his 60 minutes. Tolman now leads the competition with 63 hit-ups from 4 games, fellow prop James Graham sits in third place with 59 from 4 games.
Co-Captain Frank Pritchard left the field after aggravating an old ankle problem, but it didn’t worry the boys from Belmore. Josh Jackson moved to the right side and scored a try, made 1 line break and 1 try assist and ran for 163m. Tony Williams moved to his preferred left side and showed some great form. ‘Rex’ made 122m from his 14 runs, as well as 3 tackle busts, 1 offload and 20 tackles.
The right side for Canterbury has finally started to gel, centre Tim Lafai has recovered from a hand injury he suffered in the pre-season and Chase Stanley showed no signs of a cork that ruled him out of Round 3. Both players grabbed a try on the weekend against Melbourne and will face up against NSW Origin speedster Michael Jennings and boom rookie Daniel Tupou.
Roosters Prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves copped a 1-week suspension for his high shot against Manly last Friday night, and will miss the clash with the Dogs. However, ex-Bulldog Sonny Bill Williams returns to their pack after missing 3 weeks for a shoulder charge in Round 1.
“He certainly adds a lot, he’s a very classy player, he’s a guy that brings a lot of confidence to the team. The guys around him will be feeling good about having him back in the team. He’s missed 3 weeks so he’ll be looking to put in a good performance as well. He’s certainly a key for them that’s for sure,” said captain Michael Ennis
Trying to win back-to-back premierships for the first time since Brisbane in 1992/1993, the Roosters started the season with a big loss to Souths before getting up against Parramatta. In Round 3, Sydney won a thriller against Brisbane when Mitchell Pearce threw the final pass to Boyd Cordner who crashed over to win the match after trailing by 2 tries.
In a grand final re-match last Friday night, the Roosters were disappointing, going down to Manly 8-0 with a completion rate of 55%. According to Dogs halfback Trent Hodkinson, this doesn’t take anything away from the power of the Roosters.
“Right across the board, they’ve got big mobile forwards that get a roll on for the side. And off the back of that, their halves feed the outside backs some good footy. Right across the board you can’t pinpoint one area, they’re just a quality side.,” said Hodkinson.
The Dogs have named an un-changed line-up for this Friday night and have won 5 of their last 9 against the Roosters. At Allianz Stadium, the Roosters have played the Bulldogs 21 times, Roosters winning 11, the Bulldogs 10. Head to Head these two sides have played 162 times, the Chooks winning 80 of those, the Dogs 77 with 5 drawn.
The last time these two sides met was in Round 15 last year at ANZ Stadium, the Roosters winning that won by two points, 20-18.