Eden Park, New Zealand hosts the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs this Sunday afternoon when they take on the Warriors.
The Dogs would be extremely pleased with their performances in the last two weeks, defeating 2012 Premiers Melbourne Storm (40-12) and the 2013 Premiers Sydney Roosters (9-8).
Dominating the first 25 minutes of the match with 63% of the possession, the Bulldogs were leading the Roosters 8-0 thanks to a try to Chase Stanley in the 11th minute. ‘Player’s Player’ Sam Perrett continued to shine, making a brilliant try-saving tackle after half an hour of play. However, minutes later the Roosters were in for a try and a penalty goal to level the scores at half time.
“I thought he had a great game Sam, he’s playing some great footy. He’s really risen to the challenge. He was superb tonight, I thought under the high ball, and the way he brought the ball back. He’s a classy player,” said Hasler about Perrett.
Back from the break and both sides were at war and not prepared to leak any points. Man of the Match, Josh Reynolds showed why he deserves an Origin jersey, making a breathtaking try-saving tackle on Daniel Tupou after 55 minutes of play.
The Roosters earned a penalty goal in kicking distance with 12 minutes left on the clock, but played on hoping to score a try. Mitchell Pearce attempted a field goal on last tackle but it missed to the left. This mistake proved costly for the Roosters, the Dogs capitalising on their field position with a beautifully worked field goal to Josh Reynolds with 10 minutes remaining which ultimately sealed the match.
“It’s a really special night, I’m so proud of the boys, it was tough out there. The premiers, they’re such a good side, to think back to 12 months ago to what they did to us here. To hang in there the way we did in that second half and just grind it out, grind it out and work our way in there for that field goal. It’s a special night,” said Ennis after his 200th game.
Again, it was the big men who led the way for the blue and white, with props James Graham and Aiden Tolman putting in stellar performances. Graham notched up 35 tackles and 20 hit-ups for 148m, joining Tolman who made 19 hit-ups for 184m to take his tally to 84 from 5 games (1st in the NRL).
Canterbury fans would be excited by the form of former Australian representative Tony Williams, who racked up 5 tackle busts and over 100m against the side of Sonny Bill Williams.
Quiet achiever at Belmore, Dale Finucane was honoured with NRL Team of the Week honours after a wonderful game against the Roosters last Friday night. Finucane ran for 144m and made 30 tackles in a tireless effort.
The Warriors have had an un-settled week, losing their coach Matt Elliot who was replaced by Andrew McFadden. Winning two games from the first five rounds against North Queensland and Wests Tigers, the Warriors sit in 14th spot and are coming off a 37-6 loss to Cronulla last Sunday.
Former NZ International Thomas Leuluai has replaced five-eighth Chad Townsend who will join Feleti Mateo in the NSW Cup. Warriors leading try-scorer Glen Fisiiahi is also missing due to a shoulder injury.
Mitch Brown returns from injury, replacing the injured Chase Stanley (shoulder) who will make his comeback in time for Round 9 against St. George Dragons.
Head to head – Played 30, Bulldogs 16, Warriors 12, Drawn 2.
The last time these two sides met was in Round 9, 2013. Played in Wellington at Westpac Stadium, the Warriors led early before the Bulldogs stormed home to win a thriller, 24-16.
The Bulldogs have faced the Warriors away from their home ground at Mt. Smart on five occasions, winning 4 and drawing 1.