There is no doubt a dramatic Good Friday loss against their grand final tormenters South Sydney still burns for the Bulldogs, and the fact they're desperate for two points to try and ensure a top eight finish only adds more intensity to Friday night's must-win clash at ANZ Stadium.
The seventh-placed Bulldogs need to win two of their remaining three games to guarantee a September berth (one win may be enough but would rely on other results) and while the Rabbitohs are sure to make the finals they need to keep winning to try and secure a top-four finish and all-important second bite of the cherry.
Both sides are coming off impressive wins but have lost their hookers – Issac Luke to a dangerous throw suspension and Michael Lichaa to a season-ending ankle fracture – adding yet another layer of intrigue to the contest.
Bulldogs halfback Trent Hodkinson said they would be looking to "get one back" against Souths on Friday night.
"It was a great win [by Souths] against the Cowboys [last week], especially up there, big statement made. It's that congested and wins are that important at the moment, we'd like to get one back from last game but we've got to worry about ourselves first," he said.
"You'd always like to get back at a team that's beaten you early on. Not so much revenge, we're just looking to get an important win. We've got three games to go and we'd love to get six points there so as much as we'd like to get one back on them we're focused on ourselves."
Centre Josh Morris said the team had been looking forward to a chance to square the ledger against the Bunnies since that loss in April.
"It took a bit of a dent out of both sides that one, how physical it was and obviously the aftermath with injuries and suspensions kind of derailed both teams' seasons for a bit so it certainly adds a bit of extra spice," he said.
He added the side was happy to be facing some tough contests heading into the finals series.
"You want to be playing the teams that are in the top eight leading into the finals and trying to create that intensity of the game," Morris said.
"In Round 5 it was similar, it was a physical game, it was similar to finals football and I think they'll look to do the same. They had a good win up there in North Queensland and they'll want to build on that as well."
Both men said they were looking forward to playing alongside NSW Cup hooker Damien Cook, with the 24-year-old's pace out of dummy half the feature to watch out for.
"Young Damien Cook in NSW Cup has been going really well, he's been training in that spot alongside Michael Lichaa," Hodkinson said.
"He obviously had a couple of games during that Origin period last year, he's got some speed on him and he's a quality player, he's been carving up in the NSW Cup, he'll be excited if he gets his opportunity and I'm looking forward to seeing how he goes."
This article first apopeared on NRL.com