Schick Hydro Preview: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
After a major slip-up at Leichhardt last Sunday, Manly will be desperate to return to the winners' circle in their quest to lock up a top-eight finish and hopefully push for a possible top-four berth.
For the home team, September footy slipped away a while ago but after a dire month of on-field woes this proud club will be playing for exactly that – pride – and will be out to prove they are a better and more committed team than their past month of performances would suggest.
Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett has stuck solid with the line-up that easily strolled to a big half-time lead against the Tigers last week; rookie centre Brad Parker (knee) is the only out, replaced by Brian Kelly.
Dogs coach Des Hasler has lost five-eighth Josh Reynolds (calf) and prop Sam Kasiano (sternum) meaning a recall of Matt Frawley to the starting halves where the Chase Stanley experiment continues at halfback. Adam Elliott starts in the back row for Raymond Faitala-Mariner (bench) and hooker Michael Lichaa rejoins the interchange.
Why Bulldogs can win: We'll admit Canterbury's recent form isn't encouraging but Dogs fans can take heart from Hasler's record coaching against his old club. While a 36-0 thrashing at the hands of Manly in Round 4 will be fresh in the playing group's memory, that was actually Manly's first win over the Hasler-coached Dogs since 2014, with six straight wins to the blue-and-whites in that time. Overall, Hasler has won nine from 13 against Manly as Dogs coach. The Dogs are also capable of a 'bounce-back' performance – their two biggest losses (Round 4 and 38-0 against Penrith in Round 13) have seen them come out and win the next week. The 28-14 loss to Souths last week wasn't on that scale but the Dogs could well be using Round 4 as motivation this week.
Why Sea Eagles can win: Put simply, if the first-half version of Manly from last week – or the second-half version from the week before against the Roosters – shows up for BOTH halves on Sunday, Manly will win. Most clubs talk about putting in an 80-minute effort but Manly's past two games have been closer to 40-minute efforts, and one of those included beating the high-flying Roosters. Halfback and captain Daly Cherry-Evans has been a key man in everything Manly has done well this year; he now has the most try assists (19) of any player and equal most line-break assists (17) with plenty more try involvements along the way. He's also been finding the stripe himself of late with three tries in the past fortnight.
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Tackles, All Run Metres, Tackle Breaks, Offloads.
The history: Played 126; Bulldogs 57; Sea Eagles 64; Drawn 5. As mentioned above the Dogs won six straight against the Sea Eagles prior to Manly's big win in Round 4 this year. At ANZ, Manly have lost their past four (two of those against the Dogs) but the Dogs aren't doing any better with three straight losses and just one win from their past seven at the venue.
What are the odds: Ten times the money has been put on Manly to extend the Bulldogs' losing streak. Manly 13-plus is holding more money with Sportsbet than all of the other winning margin options combined. 85 per cent of the money at the line is even on the Sea Eagles. Latest odds at sportsbet.com.au.
Match officials: Referee: Ben Cummins; Assistant Referee: Gavin Badger; Touch judges: Brett Suttor and Belinda Sleeman; Review Official: Ben Galea; Senior RO: Jared Maxwell.
Televised: Channel Nine – Live from 4pm. Fox Sports – Live from 4pm.
NRL.com predicts: With everything to play for and against a team that is struggling badly to score points we'll back Trent Barrett's men to get the job done. Manly by 10.