Bulldogs v Roosters: Schick Preview
Schick Hydro Preview: Canterbury Bulldogs v Sydney Roosters
It won't have the same feeling as the 2004 grand final or Sonny Bill Williams's first game against his former side, but you can still expect plenty of fireworks when traditional rivals the Bulldogs and Roosters do battle for the second time this season.
The Roosters claimed a four-point win when the sides met in Round 2 on the back of a five-star showing from Luke Keary who set up three tries after the Bulldogs had jumped out of the blocks with the first two scores of the game.
Trent Robinson's men climbed into the Telstra Premiership top four last week courtesy of a 48-10 win over the Eels that saw wingers Blake Ferguson and Daniel Tupou combine for five tries while Latrell Mitchell made a triumphant return at centre.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are clinging onto eighth spot after they were well beaten at home by a Cowboys side that was missing Johnathan Thurston. They were worryingly flat last week and will need to lift considerably against the Tricolours.
Craig Garvey has joined the Bulldogs bench with Marcelo Montoya dropping back to the reserves. The Roosters have named the same 17 that thrashed the Eels but expect Ryan Matterson to come in for Zane Tetevano who has a minor knee injury.
Why the Bulldogs can win: This is a superstition that Stevie Wonder would be proud of. In odd-numbered rounds this season, the Bulldogs are 4-1 and have allowed just one second-half try. It's a freakish stat that shouldn't mean much, but is growing harder and harder to ignore. Des Hasler's men fell in Round 1 to the Storm – no one beats Melbourne in season openers – and they've gone on to defeat the Warriors, Rabbitohs, Broncos and Raiders in odd-numbered rounds. The last three wins were all at ANZ Stadium and saw the Bulldogs come back from half-time deficits.
Why the Roosters can win: There are a plethora of reasons why the Roosters should win this. But instead of delving deep into the nitty-gritty, let's just strip it back and take a look at the basics. Plenty of credit has gone to the Roosters' attacking structures in 2017, but it's their defence that has been the cornerstone of their success. Trent Robinson's men are the second-best defensive side in the competition this year having allowed just 152 points through 10 rounds. On the flip side, the Bulldogs are the equal-worst attacking side in the NRL having managed only 152 points in 2017. If they can't breach the Bondi wall, the Roosters will win this in a canter.
The history: Played 170; Bulldogs 80: Roosters 85; Drawn 5. The Roosters have been victorious in seven of the past 10 meetings against the Bulldogs, although they were beaten in both matches last season.
Match officials: Referee: Gerard Sutton. Assistant referee: Alan Shortall. Sideline officials: Michael Wise and Phil Henderson.
Televised: Channel 9 – Live coverage from 3:30pm. Fox Sports 2 – Live coverage from 4pm.
NRL.com predicts: With State of Origin on the horizon, expect the Roosters to come out firing as they hunt for a crucial two competition points before they have their side ripped apart by representative duty. Roosters by 10.