The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs look to re-ignite their season when they take on the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium this Friday night.
Without their Origin stars as well a handful of injuries, the Bulldogs fell victim to the new look Parramatta Eels side 22-12. The Bulldogs had the weight of possession but couldn’t convert this into points, making errors and failing to complete their sets.
“Our completions on the weekend, I think we probably turned over a bit too much ball for our liking. It’s probably very important against a side that’s very big, we’re going to need to hold the ball if we’re ‘gonna’ cause these guys some trouble. We really need to turn up on Friday night. Their home ground so we need a good one,” said Bulldogs prop Tim Browne.
For the Bulldogs, a run of seven successive wins was followed by three losses on the trot to place them equal second on the ladder. In order for the Dogs to make the finals, they need to win roughly 4 of their remaining 11 games.
Canterbury forward Tim Browne thinks the Bulldogs can kick-start their season with a win over Canberra and the feeling in the dressing sheds is collectively positive.
“The mood in the camp is good, we started the year off well. We’re in a good position. We needed those early wins in the year to get us through the origin period.
“Not that that’s an excuse for the way we’ve performed over the last fortnight, but we’re really looking forward to this Friday nights clash against Canberra and we need to get our season rolling gain and we need this 2 points rolling into the bye,” said Browne.
NSW halves Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds will be asked to back up just 48 hours after Origin 2 when they travel down to Canberra. This will be a massive task, but the Bulldogs have no remaining alternatives, with the make shift combination of Josh Jackson and Michael Ennis being scrapped.
Injuries and representative duties have been the main reason behind the Bulldogs recent form. Losing Josh Morris in Origin 1 (knee) was a big blow, but Krisnan Inu was waiting in NSW Cup for his opportunity and he got it.
For the first time ever the Canterbury club provided NSW with both of their halves for Origin. Lucky for the Dogs, freakish rookie half Moses Mbye was also waiting for his opportunity to lead the blue and white. The luck quickly faded and Mbye (leg) was the next victim to suffer an injury.
Take away Chase Stanley (knee), Sam Perrett (knee), David Klemmer (ankle) & Frank Pritchard (pec) and the Bulldogs are struggling to field a competitive first grade side during this Origin period.
“With Dave [Klemmer] out it’s a massive loss, he’s been a big part of what we’ve been about this year. And also Sammy Perrett, those two have played a major role throughout the opening half of the year and I’m sure they’ll get stuck into rehab and be back on the field as soon as possible,” said monstrous prop Tim Browne.
Canberra are noted for their big forwards and dazzling rookie fullback Antony Milford, however the Raiders possess real danger in the three quarter line. Centres Jarrod Croker and Jack Wighton have played 26 games between them and scored a whopping 15 tries (Croker 10, Wighton 5). Canterbury’s pairing of Inu and Lafai only amass 13 games between them with 5 tries (Lafai 5, Inu 0).
Although Canberra have been disappointing this season with 4 wins from their 13 games, they have been consistent with their selection and have a total of 8 players that have played all 13 matches this season. The Bulldogs only have 5 players that have been there every week, all of those being forwards.
Problems with the Bulldogs lie with their attack. Without the creativity and execution that Hodkinson and Reynolds provide, as well as their combinations with outside backs and their quality service for the forwards, the Bulldogs aren’t the same force they usually are.
With their preferred halves the Bulldogs were averaging 23 points scored per game, but in the last three weeks during the disrupted Origin period, they have only scored 34 points in total, at an average of just over 11 points per game.
“Just ‘gotta’ finish off our attack, because we get in the position to score, but we just ‘gotta’ get the finer detail to get over the line,” said winger Corey Thompson.
Canberra will field 11 of the 17 players that were defeated by Canterbury in Round 23, 2013. Josh Papalii (ankle) and Paul Vaughan (suspension) are out, with former Bulldog Jake Foster to start and Kyle O’Donnell coming onto the bench. Matt Allwood also replaces Reece Robinson on the wing.
For the Dogs, backs Sam Perrett, Chase Stanley and Moses Mbye are out; and forwards Frank Pritchard and David Klemmer also miss out, all due to injuries. Mitch Brown will move to fullback with former Raider Drury Low coming onto the wing. Josh Jackson goes back to second row with Dale Finucane dropping back to the bench to cover David Klemmer.
The last time these two sides met was last season, Round 23 in Canberra. The Bulldogs were coming to terms with Ben Barba’s ankle injury and Josh Morris took over the custodian role. Morris was on fire that day as the Dogs came from behind to win 28-16.
Cantebury have won 5 of their last 8 against Canberra and they’ve also won 3 of their last 5 games in Canberra.
Head to Head
Played 60, Canterbury-Bankstown 34, Canberra 26.
At GIO Stadium
Played 20, Canterbury-Bankstown 8, Canberra 12.