The Bulldogs will head to Pepper Stadium on Thursday night looking to bounce back from last week's defeat to the Brisbane Broncos.
Currently sitting in 13th, the Bulldogs need a win against the Penrith Panthers to stay within reach of the top eight and below are five questions facing both sides ahead of the clash at Pepper Stadium.
Will recovery help?
The Bulldogs head into the Round 21 fixture off the back of a seven day turnaround, while the Panthers have only five days to prepare for the clash following their win over the Titans last weekend. Will the longer turnaround help or hinder the Bulldogs?
How will the Bulldogs respond?
After going down to the Broncos 42-12 in Round 20, the Bulldogs head to Pepper Stadium on Thursday night looking to bounce back against a Panthers side closing in on a spot in the top eight. On two occasions this year the Bulldogs have had more than 30 points scored against them and have responded with hard fought wins. How will the boys from Belmore respond this weekend following the loss?
Will Matt Moylan play?
Panthers Skipper Matt Moylan failed to finish last week’s game against the Titans after coming from the field in the second half with hamstring soreness. The five-eighth missed the Panthers Round 19 win over the Warriors due to the same injury concern and was seen hobbling in the opening half of the game before icing it prior to full-time. With a short five-day turnaround, will the number six be ready to take the field on Thursday night?
Will James Graham play?
Bulldogs skipper James Graham has been sidelined for the past four weeks due to a neck injury. The prop forward underwent minor surgery to correct a persistent problem which has plagued him over the last couple of months. The inspirational forward was tipped to be sidelined for up to a month and with a huge game ahead, the inclusion of the 31-year old will be a huge boost for the Bulldogs. Will the doctors and medical staff give the green light for Graham to take to the field on Thursday night?
What will the bench look like?
The Bulldogs clash with Penrith on Thursday night, a side with one of the biggest and mobile packs in the competition. The Panthers build their game off the back of their go forward through the likes of James Tamou, Regan Campbell-Gillard, Leilani Latu as well as back rowers Corey Harawira-Naera and James Fisher-Harris. For most of the season, the Bulldogs have carried a hooker or half on the interchange bench. Will Des look to keep the same format or go with four forwards on the bench?