Schick Hydro Preview: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Cronulla Sharks
The Bulldogs should be riled up to face competition heavyweights Cronulla on Monday night.
The Dogs' 32-20 loss to the Raiders last weekend was certainly not a fair reflection of the game that was. Coach Des Hasler said so himself in the aftermath and you better believe the Raiders knew it too.
Greg Eastwood was the star of the show down in Canberra but unfortunately the Bulldogs will be without him for the next month due to a knee injury. Luckily David Klemmer and Josh Jackson appeared to get through Origin I unscathed and will come in for Eastwood and bench forward Danny Fualalo.
Will Hopoate and Josh Morris (Origin) will return as well at the expense of Tyrone Phillips and last-minute NRL debutant Reimis Smith.
Competition leaders Cronulla enjoyed the bye last weekend and have been the only team in the NRL Telstra Premiership this weekend to name an unchanged line-up, assuming James Maloney, Paul Gallen and Andrew Fifita back up from Origin I.
Watch out Bulldogs: Eastwood lived up to his nickname of 'Beast' against the Raiders last weekend following his 80-minute, 205-metre performance. But Eastwood won't feature against the Sharks nor the next three weeks after that. The onus now lies on the likes of Jackson and Raymond Faitala-Mariner to fill the New Zealand international's void against the Sharks.
Watch out Sharks: The Sharks are currently on an eight-game winning streak but past history suggests their run of victories has never been in more doubt. In recent seasons the Sharks have struggled to bounce back after a bye round. Since 2012, the men from the Shire have managed just one win from their last seven byes.
Key Match-Up: David Klemmer v Paul Gallen – New South Wales teammates one day, opposition the next. Klemmer's recent move to lock for the Bulldogs has afforded the firebrand more minutes on the paddock and more time to wreak havoc on opposition defences. While Gallen isn't as overly explosive as Klemmer in the twilight of his career the Sharks captain will have no troubles putting together an 80 minute performance up against the might of the young Bulldog.
The History: Played 87; Bulldogs 54, Sharks 31, Drawn 2. The Bulldogs headed back to Belmore Sportsground late last year to take on the Sharks only to be trumped 18-16. In the grand scheme of recent history this was a rare occasion. Prior to that Round 20 fixture in 2015, the Sharks had managed just four wins in 20 games (dating back to 2001) against their upcoming opponents.
Match Officials: Referee: Ben Cummins. Assistant Referee: Matt Noyen. Sideline Officials: Jeff Younis and Kasey Badger.
Televised: Fox Sports 1 – Live Coverage from 6:30pm.
The way we see it: Perhaps Round 13's greatly anticipated match-up, an upset could very well be on the cards at ANZ Stadium on Monday. However when you take into consideration the relatively fresh Sharks pack up against a Bulldogs outfit dealing with the loss of Eastwood, as well Jackson and Klemmer backing up from Origin it's hard to tell if they'll have the gusto to match. Sharks to make it nine straight with a six-point win.