Tigers wary after last Dogs thrashing
The Wests Tigers have hit some solid form in recent weeks, winning four of their past six games, but a 36-4 towel-up at the hands of the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in Round 10 will be on their minds when they face another test against the same team at the same venue on Saturday night.
The two big differences heading into this one are the return to form of the Tigers (who had won just one of seven heading into the previous contest) and the absence of Origin players from both teams.
The big Bulldogs pack will arguably be better equipped to cover the loss of Josh Jackson and Dave Klemmer than the Tigers are to cover their captain, prop Aaron Woods, in-form fullback James Tedesco and hooker Robbie Farah.
However winger David Nofoaluma said the Tigers had all week to prepare to play without those men and had no excuses as they looked to reverse Round 10's horror result.
"Coming up against Bulldogs, last time we came up against them they gave us a good touch up. They came out and just rolled us over. It was a little bit embarrassing," Nofoaluma said.
"We know what to expect, we trained all week to prepare well for the game so come game day we've got to be switched on."
He said even back in Round 10 that kind of performance had been unexpected.
"Obviously we weren't expecting them to not just beat us but gave us a big touch up," he said.
"We know what they're capable of doing, we've been up against them this year already so we know what we're up against. We're going to play our best footy and do what we do."
There is a big carrot on offer if the Tigers can win here given they have a guaranteed two points from next week's bye and sit just a win outside the eight heading into Round 18.
"Hopefully we get in the eight. I'm sure once we get in there we won't take anything for granted and we want to keep that top eight mentality," Nofoaluma said.
Five-eighth Mitch Moses said while clearly the Bulldogs' big pack was one of their biggest weapons, it was the improved the form of halves Josh Reynolds and Moses Mbye that had them racking up so many dominant wins of late.
"Their massive pack gets their sets on a roll. Watching Moses Mbye and Josh Reynolds, they've been in career-best form the last couple of weeks, they've been knocking off some good teams and putting some scores on them as well," Moses said.
"Their halves have been playing outstanding so we'll definitely have to lock up them."
Canterbury have racked up three impressive wins since a last-gasp loss to front-runners Cronulla a month ago, with a huge 40-14 win over Brisbane a fortnight ago the most impressive.
Moses had some additional praise for his opposite number Mbye, who he has now spent plenty of time facing off against coming through the grades.
"He's always been a class player, you could see from a young age he was always going to make it and once he got his chance he was going to grab it," Moses said.