The Bulldogs will be looking to rebound from their horror show in North Queensland when they take on the struggling Dragons at ANZ Stadium on Friday Night. The Bulldogs failed their litmus test in the Tropics, laying an egg in suffering a comprehensive 36-0 trouncing. The Dragons have much deeper problems having been sounded beaten in their last 3 games against Manly, Gold Coast and the Wests Tigers. With the Broncos losing further ground in the Top 4 race overnight the Bulldogs locked in a battle with Canberra for that crucial double bite of the cherry and 4th place. The Dragons need a win to stay in touch with the Top 8 as their season starts to slip away at a rate of knots.
Not for the first time this season Bulldogs coach Des Hasler was left to lament his sides dreadful completion rate last Thursday Night. The Bulldogs completed less then 65% of their sets and turned the ball over cheaply way too often. Moses Mbye and Josh Reynolds will have to start performing more consistently as a combination if Hasler is to persevere with them into the future. With rumours surrounding the future of hooker Michael Lichaa, Hasler appears to be reading the riot act to his cast of playmakers, start performing now or expect changes in 2017. The Dogs possess one of the biggest forward packs in the game and they will be relishing the chance to beat up on a under sized and struggling Dragons pack.
The Dragons were listless in their loss to the Tigers last Sunday. They had numerous repeat sets on the Tigers line yet lacked a direct threat continually drifting from sideline to sideline. Halves Gareth Widdop and Benji Marshall were both awful and will want to make more of their opportunities on Friday Night. Unlike the Bulldogs halves, the Dragons halves are too often playing off the back foot with a pack that lacks size and aggression. Tyson Frizell was outstanding during his maiden Origin series and he looks the only one capable of mixing it with the Bulldogs.
Verdict - I just can't see anything other then a comprehensive win for the Bulldogs. With their clear size advantage forwards I don't expect any shock tactics from the Bulldogs. Saints are down on confidence and after the Bulldogs shocking performance last week they might be facing them at exactly the wrong time. Dogs to roll through the middle with ease for mine. The 16.5 start afforded to Saints looks about right. Dogs by 20.