Wests Tigers v Bulldogs: Cleary makes change; Klemmer starts
The Tigers headed to the foot of the mountains last week with high hopes of lowering the Panthers' colours but were ultimately no match.
While they probably earned a pass mark in defence from coach Ivan Cleary, he couldn't have been too pleased with their dismal offensive output in the 16-2 loss.
But the Tigers are nothing if not resilient and will be stinging to make amends with a far more polished performance on Sunday against the Bulldogs. They have six wins from 11 games and Cleary is sure to make them understand the importance of games like this when it comes to the big picture of playing finals football.
The Doggies had something to smile about when they beat Parramatta in round 10, only to lose a close one on the road to Cronulla last week.
While most offooty followers don't give the Doggies any chance to finish in the top eight, the Dogs themselves reckon they can make it. This is a game they must win if they hope to make the finals or they can pretty much forget about it.
Key match-up: Josh Reynolds will come off the bench in a utility role and will be pumped to face his ex-teammates. Having said that, Bulldogs prop Aaron Woods will be relishing his first game against his former club.
Match: Wests Tigers vs Bulldogs
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- Nine Network
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
For the Tigers to win: They have to toss last week's performance in the bin and immediately take the initiative with the first hit-up or tackle. The Doggies would see this as a very winnable game and the Tigers need to execute their offence better than they did last week or will probably pay the price.
For the Bulldogs to win: Origin hopefuls Klemmer and Woods have to lead the way up front, Benji and Brooks need to out-shine the Doggies' halves, while Josh and Brett Morris must provide steady leadership at the back. And if Moses Mbye can kick a goal, Canterbury could very easily come up trumps on Sunday.
Tigers stat attack: The Tigers have forced the most line drop-outs (25) of any team in the NRL. Luke Brooks has missed 47 tackles this season to be equal-third with Mitch Moses. Penrith's James Maloney is the worst offender with 75 missed tackles.
Bulldogs stat attack: The Doggies have scored the first try in eight of their 11 games in 2018. They might do it a bit tougher on Sunday against the team with the best first-half defensive record this season. Twins Josh and Brett Morris have scored 10 of Canterbury's 26 tries this season.
And another thing: Can't wait to see which player didn't get the memo about the NRL's crackdown on rules, specifically those who deliberately throw passes into players in the ruck to milk a penalty and any sin-bin offenders who stroll off the field (always a bad look). Referees have been ordered to get tough on certain areas of the game and it'll be interesting to see how strictly the rules are enforced.
Wests Tigers v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 4.10pm Sunday at ANZ Stadium
Wests Tigers: 1 Tuimoala Lolohea, 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Esan Marsters, 4 Mahe Fonua, 5 Corey Thompson, 6 Benji Marshall, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Russell Packer, 9 Jacob Liddle, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Chris Lawrence (c), 12 Michael Chee-Kam, 13 Elijah Taylor
Interchange: 14 Alex Twal, 15 Josh Reynolds, 16 Matthew Eisenhuth, 18 Josh Aloiai
Coach Ivan Cleary has recalled fullback Tui Lolohea and centre Mahe Fonua, with Corey Thompson moving to wing in place of Malakai Watene-Zelezniak and Michael Chee-Kam named as a back-rower. Josh Reynolds comes back from a fractured scapula on the bench. Josh Aloiai moves from the reserves to the bench in place of Sauaso Sue and Chris McQueen was cut 24 hours before kick-off. Tim Grant and Kevin Naiqama were omitted an hour before the match.
Bulldogs: 1 Moses Mbye, 2 Brett Morris, 3 John Olive, 4 Will Hopoate, 5 Marcelo Montoya, 6 Matt Frawley, 7 Kieran Foran, 8 Aaron Woods, 9 Jeremy Marshall-King, 14 Adam Elliott, 11 Josh Jackson (c), 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13 Rhyse Martin
Interchange: 10 David Klemmer, 15 Clay Priest, 16 Renouf Toomaga, 17 Kerrod Holland
In a late change to the run-on team, Adam Elliott will start at prop with David Klemmer to start on the interchange bench. Reimis Smith and Asipeli Fine were dropped off the bench an hour before kick-off. Josh Morris is out for eight weeks with a knee injury so John Olive gets a chance at centre. Michael Lichaa and Greg Eastwood were given the chop from the squad on Saturday afternoon.
Head-to-head: Played 32; Bulldogs 20 wins, Wests Tigers 12 wins
Matches at venue: Played 20; Bulldogs 12 wins, Wests Tigers 8 wins
2017 result: Wests Tigers won 18-12 at ANZ Stadium in round 8
Points per game: Wests Tigers 15.8; Bulldogs 15.7
Points conceded per game: Wests Tigers 15.2; Bulldogs 20.4
Televised: Live on Nine, Fox League
Steve Turner's prediction: The Tigers found it tough against the Panthers last weekend and are showing signs of inconsistency. They will be hoping the inclusion of Josh Reynolds this week sparks them against the Dogs. Canterbury need a win.
There has been so much spoken about the Bulldogs, but it's now time for their football do the talking. Aaron Woods will line-up against his former club and with Origin selection just around the corner, Woods and David Klemmer will be looking for big performances to impress New South Wales selectors.
Tip: Bulldogs by 4