The Bulldogs will look to bounce back from a disappointing defeat to the Melbourne Storm when they face the Canberra Raiders in the second of three straight home games this Saturday (1st June, 7:15pm kick-off) at ANZ Stadium.
Match: Bulldogs v Raiders
Round 12 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- LIVE PASS
Undoubtedly keen to bounce back, the Bulldogs will have to do it without Jayden Okunbor, who will miss at least another month with a small Lisfranc injury to the ligament between the first and second toe that will not require surgery. Meanwhile Dylan Napa will also be out after his selection for the Queensland State of Origin side.
Round 11 marked a third straight loss for the Raiders, as they went down 22-16 to the Cowboys in Canberra. They too suffered from a slow start, finding themselves 8-0 down after 17 minutes before two tries in quick succession to Bailey Simonsson and Michael Oldfield levelled the scores, with Jarrod Croker successfully converting Oldfield’s four pointer to give their side the lead. Justin O'Neill crossed to restore the Cowboy’s advantage, with Kyle Feldt scoring less than two minutes into the second half to extend their advantage. A Siliva Havili try wasn’t enough to inspire Canberra to a comeback, with the visitors taking the win and compounding more misery on a Raiders side who lost Josh Hodgson to a suspected broken thumb, and now face the possibility of dropping out of the top 8 with another loss this week.
Canberra will be looking to club captain Jarrod Croker for a big performance with Origin and injury to see his side without a whopping nine players for the game against the Bulldogs. The Raiders all-time leading points scorer, Croker has had a red-hot start to 2019, and will feel disappointed to have missed out on Brad Fittler’s Blues side for Game One. In his 11 appearances this season the centre boasts four tries, and has kicked 39 goals, placing him 4th in the league for points scored this season with 94. Meanwhile exciting young fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad remains a serious threat as he continues his rise to the top. He has 12 tries in a career that’s just 18 games old including five throughout his 11 appearances so far in 2019.
Ricky Stuart was an instant coaching success, taking the Bulldogs Jersey Flegg team to a premiership in his first season after his retirement from playing at the end of 2000. He left the Bulldogs in 2002 and was named head coach at the Sydney Roosters. In 2005, whilst still at Bondi, Stuart lead NSW to a 2-1 Origin series victory. Shortly after he was named coach of the Kangaroos, before leaving his post in controversial fashion following the 2008 World Cup. Whilst Kangaroos coach, he also became coach of the Cronulla Sharks. Stuart was at the helm from 2007-2010 before leaving to focus on his return to the NSW setup. Following back to back Origin series losses in 2011 and 2012, Stuart resigned, joining the Parramatta Eels in 2013. He left the club after just one season, becoming Raiders coach in 2014 where he has remained ever since. As a coach, Stuart’s record stands at 184 wins and 191 losses from 376 games, with a 49% win percentage. In the 2016 season, Stuart guided the Raiders to a second placed finish on the NRL ladder and a preliminary finals birth.
The Raiders will be without a host of key players this weekend, with nine players set to miss the weekend’s match through both injury and State of Origin duty. English hooker Josh Hodgson is the latest to be bitten by the injury bug, he requires surgery on a broken thumb which will see him miss 6-8 weeks. He joins a further five players in the casualty ward including Jordan Rapana and Joey Leilua, among others. Also out this week are Josh Papalii, Jack Wighton and Nick Cotric, all of whom have been selected for their respective State of Origin sides.
Key Matchup: Young Fullbacks
It’s a battle of the young fullbacks on Saturday, as Nick Meany and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad go head to head in what is sure to be an exciting matchup. Meany has been impressive in an underperforming Bulldogs side. He boasts 30 tackle breaks and one try assist in his first nine appearances for the club and has had many more bright spots so far this season. There’s been every indication that there is something truly special to come from Meany, who arrived at Belmore this season following his departure from the Newcastle Knights. Meanwhile Nicoll-Klokstad has cemented himself as Ricky Stuart’s first choice number one in 2019. He has 5 tries and 54 tackle breaks from his 11 games this season and sits 2nd in the league for kick return metres with 682 whilst also being 5th in the league for overall run metres with 1,800. Both are under 24, growing in confidence each week and still have plenty more to come. Expect to see some serious fireworks when these two turn it on come game day.
The Raiders had the Bulldogs number last season, following a 26-10 win at home in Round 5 before a 32-28 win in Round 17, but with both sides experiencing mixed results as of late, and the Raiders missing a host of stars, it’s anyone’s game come Saturday night.