Will the Bulldogs bounce back to winning form against an old rival?
Canterbury lacked enthusiasm, imagination and any penetration in a shocking 38-nil loss to the Panthers at ANZ Stadium last Sunday afternoon. It was one of the worst performances they’ve put together under coach Des Hasler.
The team has since had a ‘truth’ session over beers and barbecue but will it be enough to fire them up and save their season?
They face a Dragons outfit that scraped together a 16-12 result over the Wests Tigers last week but importantly it was the first game back for inspirational captain, Gareth Widdop.
The return of Josh Reynolds should give the team some attacking spark.
Canterbury has lost four straight games in Reynolds’ absence and will be desperate to put in an improved showing here against one of the best sides in the competition. Aiding their cause will be the return of captain James Graham as well.
The Bulldogs have been held scoreless twice this season with the other occasion being against Manly in Round 4 – they responded by coming out and winning their next three games!
With an incredible amount of pressure on Hasler and the rest of the team, fans are becoming increasingly frustrated so if they don’t fire up here it could be curtains for the Dogs in 2017.
After a thrashing you would expect some bounce back but whether it will be enough to get them the points is another thing. They haven’t lost five straight games since 2010.
STGEORGE ILLAWARRA sorely missed Gareth Widdop’s class and leadership after be went off injured in the Anzac Day game against the Roosters.
The Dragons lost three straight at one point but corrected the ship by beating the Warriors in New Zealand and then scraping home against the Tigers last week. Widdop’s stamp on the game was unmistakable as he scored two tries in the vital win.
You would assume he will only be better for the run while Tyson Frizell and Josh Dugan will also appreciate having a longer break as they backed up just days after State Of Origin I for the Tigers clash.
CANTERBURY has found the right team to try and break out of their funk.
The bulldogs have completely owned the Dragons in recent times by winning nine of the past 10 games between the sides including four in succession going into this.
Five of Canterbury’s nine wins during this dominant period over the Dragons have been by 13+ so if you think they will break their run of outs here by a similar margin, you can take $8 @ bet365.
When looking at the bare facts it is hard to tip Canterbury, however, this is the type of situation that could bring the best out of them.
They have their backs against the wall, fans are disheartened and calling for the coach’s head and the team is underperforming. It isn’t ingredient you would want to put your hard earned on, however, we have seen them respond many times in the past as they did after that heavy loss to Manly earlier in the year.
Canterbury ($2.75 @ Unibet) will be fired up and should come out all guns blazing but that can only take you so far in your games. You need to be clinical in your finishing and that is something they haven’t shown for a long time which is why they have scored the second fewest points in the comp (13.69ppg).
Stgeorge Illawarra have been a surprise packet so far this season but their lack of finishing last week against the Tigers puts a bit of doubt in the mind for this game.
They are one of the better defensive units in the comp and that will give the misfiring Bulldogs attack plenty of grief. The Red V also score the most points of any side in the first 40 minutes; conversely, Canterbury score the least, so back the Dragons to be leading at halftime.
Coach Paul Mcgregor had a scare when Frizell went off with injured ribs last week but the NSW rep has been cleared to play here. The Dragons forwards have been a large part of their success in 2017 and considering what the Panthers did to the Bulldogs pack last week, we think they will lay the platform for a win, albeit a narrow one.
Take the Dragons.
STGEORGE ILLAWARRA 1-10 WINNING MARGIN