It’s a week of mixed feelings for the Bulldogs who prepare to take on the Cutters without hooker Damien Cook – who earned his first NRL appearance against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
“We’re exceptionally happy for Damien,” said Bulldogs coach Andy Patmore. “The boys are wrapped – all his team mates are very excited for him. He’s been our rock, our most consistent player all year and has played every game. He’s a big position to fill.”
Sitting two points outside the top eight, the Cutters enter a must-win contest if they are to remain in the finals race.
It’s also a crucial contest for the fifth-placed Bulldogs this week after their shattering 26-12 loss to the Manly Sea Eagles. Leading 12-4 at halftime, the Bulldogs were held scoreless in the second half that Patmore is keen to rectify before facing the Cutters.
“We were very poor,” Patmore said. “We completed six of 12 sets in the second half. That’s 50 percent and only 12 sets with the ball. We’ve put ourselves in the position of do or die now. We had a fair talk about it – it wasn’t pleasant.
“They’re a very big side. It’s about controlling the big forwards – Russell Packer, Shannon Wakeman and George Rose. They’re a very big pack and we need to work hard on that.
“We have to play better and control the ball. If we do that, we know we’re a chance of beating every side.”
The last time the two sides met in round 16, the Bulldogs run out 44-28 victors.
With plenty for both sides to play for, you can be sure it will be a tighter affair this time around.
Canterbury v Illawarra
Belmore Sports Ground, Saturday 22nd August
Referee: Liam Nicholls Touch Judges: Jay Farlow, Mitchell Stone
BULLDOGS: 1 LINDON MCGRADY 2 TYRONE PHILLIPS 3 CHASE STANLEY 4 LEVI DODD 5 JARROD MCINALLY 6 MATT FRAWLEY 7 JALINE GRAHAM 8 ANTONIO KAUFUSI 9 BRAD CLARK 10 HERMINE ESE’ESE 11 GEORGE TSIKRIKAS 12 ADAM ELLIOTT 13 JASON SCHIRNACK 14 ALEX SORGE 15 PAT O’HANLAN 16 JACOB LOKO 17 MAKAHESI MAKATOA COACH ANDREW PATMORE
CUTTERS: 1 BLAKE WALLACE 2 KAYNE BRENNAN 3 JUNIOR VAIVAI 4 BRENT ANDERSON 5 ETO NABULI 6 DREW HUTCHISON 7 SHANNON CROOK 8 RUSSELL PACKER 9 HEATH L’ESTRANGE 10 LUKE PAGE 11 ADAM TUIMAVAVE-GERRARD 12 NATHAN GREEN 13 SAM COSTER 14 ANDREW MCCARTHY 15 SHANNON WAKEMAN 16 DYLAN STRICKLAND 18 RORY O’BRIEN 22 PENI BOTIKI 24 JOKATAMA DOKONIVALU COACH SCOTT LOGAN
This article first appeared on NSWRL.com.au