Roosters and Bulldogs rivalry extends to NSW Cup

The Bulldogs and Roosters not only meet in an eagerly-anticipated clash in the NRL Finals this week, but also in the VB NSW Cup Preliminary Final on Sunday at Leichhardt Oval.

Roosters affiliate feeder side, the Wyong Roos, and Canterbury Bulldogs battle it out this Sunday in a bid to book a spot in the most important game of the season, the 2015 VB NSW Cup Grand Final.

Both sides play an exciting brand of football with a very open style, but have proven they have the defensive capabilities and structures in place to restrict the opposition and win important games.

The Bulldogs head into the match on a four-match winning streak and consequently are carrying strong momentum, while the Roos are ready to rip into the Grand Final qualifier after having a well-earned week off.

Roos coach Rip Taylor hopes the week off benefited his players, as they are coming up against one of the biggest forward packs in the competition.

“I certainly hope [the week of is a benefit],” said Taylor.

“The boys are fresh and keen, everyone’s got a spring in their step. Mainly we just [want to focus] our own game and making sure we get to our points, and play the game we want to play.”

The Bulldogs possess a range of attacking weapons within their team, but nobody has hit such sublime form at the right time than their halfback Jaline Graham.

“We’ve obviously got to attack the football and limit their offloads, and not give Graham any space,” said Taylor.

Graham has four tries already this finals series, and Bulldogs coach Andy Patmore is delighted with the way he is playing.

“He’s been fullback for most of the year, but with Corey Thompson being back there doing a great job, it’s just allowed him to go back in the halves, which is where he played during the [Under] 20’s,” said Patmore.

“He’s exceptionally quick and he’s defending really well. He’s hit a bit of form and he’s in a happy place too. He’s really enjoying his footy at the moment.”

While the Bulldogs are an extremely expansive football team that thrives on second-phase play, the Roos are one of the few teams in the competition that can match their open style of football.

The Bulldogs defeated the Roos 29-22 the last time they played, and as a result, Patmore will focus his side on defence in a bid to combat players such as Tyler Cornish, Mitch Williams and Omar Slaimankhel.

“[The Roos] are very similar to us, they play some really good open football so defence is going to be really important,” explained Patmore.

“They’ve got some key players, so again trying to defend a side that moves the ball around {is the focus}. We’ve really got to work hard in defence and see what happens.”

Frank Pritchard being cleared at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night means the Bulldogs will not have to relinquish a forward to first grade, which is satisfying for Patmore.

“The result helps us with Frank being cleared. It allows us to play another player, which we wouldn’t have had before. So that’s a real bonus during the week that we thought we were going to miss out on,” said Patmore.

“So some things are falling into place, that always helps. There’s a really good feel with most of the boys, they’re working hard for each other and they’re in a pretty good place.”

The Roos have been a heavyweight side in the competition for the entire season, while the Bulldogs are an exciting and talented side backed with momentum.

Make sure to be at Leichardt Oval this Sunday at 1pm to be part of a classic VB NSW Cup Preliminary Final between two thrilling teams.

Leichhardt Oval, Sunday 20th September, 1pm

Teams:

ROOS: 1 OMAR SLAIMANKHEL 2 CHRIS CENTRONE 3 NATHAN SMITH 4 YILEEN GORDON 5 ABRAHAM PAPALII 6 JONO FORD 7 TYLER CORNISH 8 MAGNUS STROMQUIST 9 MITCH WILLIAMS (c) 10 ELONI VUNAKECE 11 LEIVAHA PULU 12 JACK SIEJKA 13 SHAUN BOSS 14 BROCK MOLAN 15 LOPINI PAEA 16 BENNETT LESLIE 17 CARNE DOYLE-MANGA COACH RIP TAYLOR


BULLDOGS: 1 COREY THOMPSON 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 DANNY FUALALO 11 PAT O’HANLON 12 ADAM ELLIOTT 13 JASON SCHIRNACK 14 ALEX SORGE 15 TAUTALATASI TASI 16 GEORGE TSIKRIKAS 17 MAKAHESI MAKATOA COACH ANDREW PATMORE

This article first appeared on NSWRL.com.au