The equation is simple for the Dragons – win and you’re in!
Stgeorge Illawarra find themselves in ninth spot heading into this game and nothing less than a win will guarantee them a spot in the top eight.
If we are being honest here the Dragons should have wrapped up a spot in the finals already but a number of close losses in the back end of the season may ultimately come back to haunt them. The two that standout are the back-to-back losses to Newcastle and Souths.
Despite that they will come into this game with some confidence having snapped the Panthers’ seven-game winning streak at Pepper Stadium last week, 16-14.
Canterbury’s disappointing season is about to come to an end but they seem determined to end 2017 on a high and are chasing three straight wins for just the second time this season. Last week they handled the disappointing Titans and left Cbus Super Stadium as 26-14 winners.
LEAVING IT LATE
STGEORGE ILLAWARRA has won two of their past three games to give themselves a shot at the finals.
Prior to that they had won just two of eight to unravel all the good work they did at the start of the season when they exploded out of the boxes and were 6-1 after seven rounds.
One pleasing aspect about the Dragons play of late has been the effort of the forwards which was a big reason for their early season success. Tyson Frizell, Paul Vaughan and Jack de Belin have all been in great form while the effort of Tariq Sims last week was a standout.
Those players need to lift once more against the Bulldogs forward pack if Gareth Widdop and the outside backs are any chance of putting some points on the board.
Another sign of their improving play is the defence which has tightened up considerably over the past three games.
The Bulldogs have been full of enterprise over the past fortnight and its no surprise to see that they’ve played some of their best games of the season as a result of that.
They have played some great attacking footy and registered scores of 30 and 26 in wins over the Sea Eagles and Titans – their two biggest scores of the season.
If they play like that again on Sunday afternoon then they will definitely trouble the Dragons defence.
CANTERBURY has completely dominated this fixture since 2012.
The boys from Belmore have won 10 of the past 11 including the past five in succession with those matches being played at ANZ Stadium.
When these sides met back in Round 14 the Bulldogs were at their lowest point of the season as several players were under pressure while the future of coach Des Hasler was in the media every day. They bounced back to keep the Dragons scoreless in a 14-2 upset.
Margin players will be interested to know that there has been an interesting pattern emerge in their past five clashes. The Bulldogs won by 13, then by one, then by 18 followed by a three-point win and the latest 14-point result. If that trend continues then the 1-12 Winning Margin option will be the way to go because a tight contest is due.
A Bulldogs 1-12 win is returning $4.80 @ Palmerbet.
We are having a shot at the stumps here and going for the Bulldogs to cause the upset ($3.30 @ bet365).
They have had the measure of their traditional rivals for quite some time and we think will be up for the challenge again. Des Hasler’s side just seem to lift whenever they play the Red V.
We are particularly impressed with their new found attack even though they are still ranked last in the competition for points scored (14.5ppg). Remember, it is club favourite Josh Reynolds’ last game and the boys will be pumped to send ‘Grub’ off a winner even if he doesn’t make the field (he has been named on the reserves bench).
Stgeorge Illawarra are capable of winning this at their best but unfortunately their best has been few and far between of late. We are going for the Dogs simply because they represent far better value the Dragons who are too short for us.
Yes, the merged entity still has everything to play for but they should have already wrapped up a spot in the top eight and we think they will fall just short in their bid for finals footy in 2017.
BULLDOGS 1-12 WINNING MARGIN