The Bulldogs host the Sydney Roosters at Accor Stadium this Saturday at 5.30PM, with a chance to reproduce the quality of football they played in the first half against the Broncos last Friday.
There were promising indicators in the 34-14 loss, as an undermanned Dogs outfit took the contest to the home side in the opening 40, before falling away badly in the second half under the weight of fatigue.
COVID and injury made the trip north a tricky one, and with three important players returning to the starting line-up against the Chooks, coach Trent Barrett will have a far more settled preparation than the one he oversaw just seven days ago.
The Roosters could be ripe for the picking after a stunning ANZAC Day loss to the Dragons at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and with three losses already suffered in 2022, the blue and whites will be out to topple one of their fiercest rivals.
Jake Averillo, Brent Naden and Ava Seumanufagai all come straight back into the team, with Round 7 debutants Jacob Kiraz and Billy Tsikrikas, making way for them after excellent contributions against the Broncos.
Fullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Matt DuftyFullback for Roosters is number 1 James Tedesco
Winger for Bulldogs is number 5 Josh Addo-CarrWinger for Roosters is number 2 Kevin Naiqama
Centre for Bulldogs is number 3 Aaron SchouppCentre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph Manu
Centre for Bulldogs is number 4 Jake AverilloCentre for Roosters is number 22 Adam Keighran
Winger for Bulldogs is number 21 Jayden OkunborWinger for Roosters is number 5 Joseph Suaalii
Five-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Matt BurtonFive-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Sam Walker
Halfback for Bulldogs is number 7 Kyle FlanaganHalfback for Roosters is number 7 Luke Keary
Prop for Bulldogs is number 8 Luke ThompsonProp for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Hooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Jeremy Marshall-KingHooker for Roosters is number 9 Sam Verrills
Prop for Bulldogs is number 10 Paul VaughanProp for Roosters is number 10 Lindsay Collins
2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Corey Waddell2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Angus Crichton
2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Tevita Pangai Junior2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Sitili Tupouniua
Lock for Bulldogs is number 16 Max KingLock for Roosters is number 13 Victor Radley
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Bailey Biondi-OdoInterchange for Roosters is number 14 Drew Hutchison
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 15 Joe StimsonInterchange for Roosters is number 15 Fletcher Baker
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Ava SeumanufagaiInterchange for Roosters is number 16 Nat Butcher
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 23 Billy TsikrikasInterchange for Roosters is number 17 Siosiua Taukeiaho
Replacement for Bulldogs is number 20 Jackson TopineReplacement for Roosters is number 18 Lachlan Lam
- Referee: Ben Cummins
- Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
- Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
- Senior Review Official: Adam Gee
Despite the Round 7 loss, there was further evidence that the Bulldogs are getting far closer to the stability that is required. Kyle Flanagan has had a three match run in the number 7 jersey, Josh Addo-Carr’s involvement has increased to the point where he now tops the NRL in tackle breaks with 43, and the attacking instincts in the first 30 minutes showed what the team is capable of.
It was the 12 errors made against the Broncos that once again cruelled a Bulldog performance that stacked up statistically well in other areas. Canterbury averaged more metres per set than Brisbane, off-loaded effectively 18 times and eclipsed the home side in total run metres.
In addition, the 89.8 per cent tackle efficiency statistic continues to be a strength and when ball control is managed well, the team can settle into the type of pattern that will win games.
Trent Barrett will undoubtedly be emphasising this against a Roosters team ignited by the brilliance of James Tedesco and Luke Keary. Anything less than an even share will make for a challenging evening.
Kyle Flanagan v Luke Keary: The two halfbacks were halves partners at the Tricolours in 2020. Each has had a bit of a rocky time since, Keary largely through injury and Flanagan trying to find his feet at the struggling Bulldogs, each will be pivotal to their side's hopes on Saturday. Keary is still looking for his best form after an interrupted pre-season while Flanagan, finally recalled, has been close to his side's best in the past three weeks.