The NRL’s fifth annual Queen’s Birthday clash is set to explode into action on Monday as the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs host the St. George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium, 4pm kick off.
The first official Queen’s Birthday clash took place in Round 13 of the 2015 NRL season with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs running away 29-16 winners over the Dragons. Since then the sides have contested the game annually a further three times in what has become one of the most anticipated fixtures of the season for both Bulldogs and Dragons fans. The Bulldogs have the wood over their opponents in this fixture, triumphing in three of the four games played to date. The largest margin of victory came in 2016 as the Bulldogs took the game 34-16, an 18 point win. That game was also the highest scoring Queen’s Birthday clash to date, with the sides combining to amass a total of 50 points. The lowest scoring game in the fixture’s history took place a year later in 2017, as the sides scored a collective 18 points in another victory to the ‘Dogs, who were 16-2 winners on the day. The Dragons lone win came last year, an 18-16 triumph for the visitors, the was the smallest margin of victory in the fixture’s history.
St. George Illawarra’s Gareth Widdop is the leading scorer in the fixture with 24 points from his four appearances. He leads Moses Mbye (16), Will Hopoate and Michael Lichaa (both 8). Widdop is also tied first for most tries scored in the fixture alongside Michael Lichaa, Josh Morris, Curtis Rona, Will Hopoate and Kurt Mann, all of whom have recorded two tries each. Only Hopoate and Lichaa will have the opportunity to add to their tally come Monday however, with Widdop out injured, and the others all having moved on from their clubs.
There are several men who have taken part in all four Queen’s Birthday clashes. This list includes Aidan Tolman, Michael Lichaa and Josh Jackson, but only two can say they’ve crossed the divide and turned out for both sides in the fixture, Tim Lafai and James Graham, both former Bulldogs now of St. George Illawarra. Lafai was first to jump ship, after playing the inaugural fixture in blue and white, he made the move to Kogarah in 2016. Meanwhile English international Graham switched allegiances last season after five years at Belmore.
Each of the four fixtures have seen bumper crowds of over 20,000 people come through the gates. The inaugural game still holds the record, as 27,291 people turned out to see the Bulldogs triumph over their local rivals. Years since have seen crowds of 20,153; 24,083; and 21,376 make their way to ANZ Stadium.
2019’s clash will see two sides desperately searching for a win scrapping it out for local bragging rights. The Dragons have lost five straight and will be wary of a Bulldogs side that will be out for revenge after the 40-4 thumping handed to them by the Red V earlier in the season. Meanwhile the ‘Dogs will be keen to turn things around and make the most of the wounded Dragons, who will be without several stars through injury and with three more in doubt thanks to State of Origin duty.
Families can purchase tickets from as little as $40 for four people, and there will be a range of entertainment and activities for the kids all day long at ANZ Stadium. Early birds can also catch our Jersey Flegg team in action from 1:55pm before the NRL side takes centre stage at 4pm.