Schick Hydro Preview: Sea Eagles v Bulldogs
Lottoland plays host to a crunch game between traditional rivals keen to build on last-start wins.
The Sea Eagles travelled north and showed they can still be a force this season with a crushing 30-8 win over the previously unbeaten Cowboys, while the Bulldogs weathered an early onslaught to down the Warriors 24-12 in Dunedin.
It'll be a special afternoon for Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans who will play game 150 this weekend, while Bulldogs winger Brett Morris joins the 200 club 11 years after making his NRL debut.
The Sea Eagles welcome back Martin Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake from their respective shoulder charge suspensions, with Billy Bainbridge and Shaun Lane relegated to an extended bench.
Rookies Brad Abbey and Marcelo Montoya have retained their spots in the Bulldogs backline with Des Hasler naming an unchanged side from the one that downed the Warriors.
Why the Sea Eagles can win: Two words: Tom Trbojevic. The Sea Eagles fullback is fast becoming one of the must-see players in the NRL, with the youngster shooting to the top of the leaderboard with a whopping 625 running metres from the first three rounds. His speed and ability to create try-scoring opportunities out of nothing make him a threat every time he carries the ball, and the lanky fullback will be keen to atone for his error from the last time these sides met that allowed Josh Reynolds to score a try in golden point.
Why the Bulldogs can win: Manly have received a huge boost with big boppers Martin Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake set to return from suspension, but even with them in the side the Sea Eagles face the daunting prospect of trying to contain Canterbury's monster pack. The Bulldogs rank 10th in the NRL for metres gained – mainly because they've been starved of possession for long stretches in the early rounds – while the Sea Eagles are last with 3,994 running metres so far in 2017. It's an area Canterbury will be keen to assert their dominance, and if they can lay a platform, expect the men on the flanks to have a field day.
The history: Played 125; Sea Eagles 62; Bulldogs 57; Drawn 6. It's been one-way traffic in recent times with the Bulldogs winning the past six meetings between the sides. That said, only one of those matches was a blowout, with two of the games going to golden point.
Match officials: Referee: Gavin Badger. Assistant referee: Jon Stone. Sideline officials: Tim Roby and Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski.
Televised: Fox Sports 2 – Live coverage from 4pm.
NRL.com predicts: Sydney's diabolical weather shows no signs of abating, and that means Lottoland is likely to resemble a bog come Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs love a scrap and the heavy conditions will suit their big men. It should be a low-scoring affair with Canterbury getting home by 10 points.