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Last week's first-round games were crucial for two teams that languished at or near the bottom of the ladder last season.

The Eels rose to the occasion, defying the doubters with an impressive upset of the Panthers, while the Doggies were never in the hunt against the Warriors and suffered the heaviest loss of any team over the opening weekend.

Few if any pundits tip the Dogs to be in the top eight mix, but almost everyone expects improvement on last year.

And while one bad performance doesn't make a season, few positives came out of the thrashing from last week's thrashing and Dean Pay has to quickly make some adjustments or Dogs fans will soon be howling.

The Rundown

Team news

Bulldogs: In a late positional change, Jeremy Marshall-King will start the match at hooker, with Michael Lichaa dropping back to the interchange bench. Nick Meaney and Chris Smith were the two men left out of the squad an hour before kick-off. Jack Cogger and Ofahiki Ogden dropped out of the squad 24 hours before kick-off. The Bulldogs have won three of their past four games at ANZ Stadium. 

Eels: Parramatta will start the match 1-17 with Oregon Kaufusi and George Jennings the two players omitted an hour before game time. Jaeman Salmon will make his first appearance of the season via the interchange. Bevan French and Andrew Davey dropped off the extended bench 24 hours before kick-off.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Will Hopoate
    Fullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton Gutherson
  • Winger for Bulldogs is number 2 Christian Crichton
    Winger for Eels is number 2 Maika Sivo
  • Centre for Bulldogs is number 3 Kerrod Holland
    Centre for Eels is number 3 Josh Hoffman
  • Centre for Bulldogs is number 4 Marcelo Montoya
    Centre for Eels is number 4 Brad Takairangi
  • Winger for Bulldogs is number 5 Reimis Smith
    Winger for Eels is number 5 Blake Ferguson
  • Five-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Kieran Foran
    Five-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Dylan Brown
  • Halfback for Bulldogs is number 7 Lachlan Lewis
    Halfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell Moses

Forwards

  • Prop for Bulldogs is number 8 Aiden Tolman
    Prop for Eels is number 8 Daniel Alvaro
  • Hooker for Bulldogs is number 14 Jeremy Marshall-King
    Hooker for Eels is number 9 Reed Mahoney
  • Prop for Bulldogs is number 10 Dylan Napa
    Prop for Eels is number 10 Junior Paulo
  • 2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Josh Jackson
    2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Shaun Lane
  • 2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner
    2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Marata Niukore
  • Lock for Bulldogs is number 13 Adam Elliott
    Lock for Eels is number 13 Tepai Moeroa

Interchange

  • Interchange for Bulldogs is number 9 Michael Lichaa
    Interchange for Eels is number 14 Jaeman Salmon
  • Interchange for Bulldogs is number 15 Danny Fualalo
    Interchange for Eels is number 15 Tim Mannah
  • Interchange for Bulldogs is number 16 Corey Harawira-Naera
    Interchange for Eels is number 16 Kane Evans
  • Interchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Sauaso Sue
    Interchange for Eels is number 17 David Gower

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ben Cummins
  • Referee: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski

Last updated:

Key match-up

The battle in the halves will have a major impact on the result but it's the hookers who could play decisive roles. Bulldogs rake Michael Lichaa has never really won over Dogs fans despite flashes of promise over the years. Eels hooker Reed Mahoney was a standout in last week's upset of Penrith. The 20-year-old played in nine matches last season but is essentially a rookie.

For the Bulldogs to win

It's all about attitude for the Dogs this week. Dylan Napa and the rest of the pack have to bounce back with a strong effort after being out-played by their Warriors counterparts. If they get over the top of Parra's forwards it will allow the halves to create chances for the outside backs.

For the Eels to win

After firing up for a big season-opening victory over old rivals Penrith, the challenge this week is more mental than anything for Parra. Winning does wonders for confidence and self-belief and it'll be interesting to see if the Eels remain grounded and execute a solid game plan for two weeks in a row.

Brett Kimmorley says ...

It was a tough outing for Canterbury. It was a bit of a lesson for Lachlan Lewis – the big reality check for him was all the time he had last year was taken away. As much as their whole team is on notice as far as the physicality battle goes, Lewis needs to take control of the game along with Kieran Foran.  The Eels were very good last week. Mitchell Moses played nice and straight, nice and direct. The young No.6 and No.9 (Dylan Brown and Reed Mahoney) were really good. Eels by 8

Bulldogs Stat Attack

The Dogs had a superior completion rate (88%) than the Warriors (80%) and less errors (five to the Warriors' eight). But they missed a whopping 38 tackles and could be in for another hiding if they haven't addressed the defensive issues.

Eels Stat Attack

Michael Jennings wound back the clock with a vintage display against the Panthers. The 30-year-old former Origin centre scored two tries, made two line breaks, five tackle breaks and ran for 135m. The Eels need more of the same from MJ.

Head-to-head

Played 144, Canterbury 76, Parramatta 63, drawn 5

At ANZ Stadium

Played 30, Canterbury 16, Parramatta 14

And another thing ...

Spare a thought for Nathan Brown. After injuries limited him to 15 games last year, Brown faces up to 12 weeks on the sideline after damaging his left pectoral muscle in the 20-12 defeat of the Panthers. The 26-year-old Eels lock was once touted as a potential Origin player but luck hasn't been on his side.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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