After a season of ups, downs and plenty of drama the Broncos enter round 25 all but assured of a finals berth and a trip to Manly or Parramatta in week one of the play-offs.
A win will give them some momentum heading into the finals but a loss could see them miss out altogether in the unlikely event of a draw between the Sharks and Tigers on Sunday.
Canterbury's slim hopes of reaching the finals ended last weekend, but the fact they'd got themselves back into the picture over the preceding month was more than anyone had expected over the opening four months of the season.
They now get the chance to play for the role of spoiler once again. If they can limit the effectiveness of teen stars Payne Haas and David Fifita on Saturday night, they'll have gone a long way towards doing that.
Match: Bulldogs v Broncos
Round 25 -
Venue: Accor Stadium, Sydney
Bulldogs: The Bulldogs are 1-17. Chris Smith (head knock) and Raymond Faitala-Mariner (medial ligament strain) have trained well and will both play, while Morgan Harper will make his NRL debut. Fa'amanu Brown and Ofahiki Ogden were the first cuts from the 21-man squad on Friday, while Isaiah Tass and Danny Fualalo were the last players omitted before kick-off. The Bulldogs have won three of their past four games at ANZ Stadium.
Broncos: The Broncos are also 1-17. Joe Ofahengaue (calf) was ruled out for another week with Rhys Kennedy joining the interchange bench. Sean O'Sulliovan was the other omission 24 hours out from game time, while Gehamat Shibasaki and Shaun Fensom were the last players cut before kick-off. Jake Turpin returns from suspension to take the No.7 jumper from O'Sullivan. The Broncos have won three of their past four games against the Bulldogs.
Match: Bulldogs v Broncos
Round 25 -
Fullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Will HopoateFullback for Broncos is number 1 Anthony Milford
Winger for Bulldogs is number 2 Nick MeaneyWinger for Broncos is number 2 Corey Oates
Centre for Bulldogs is number 3 Morgan HarperCentre for Broncos is number 3 Kotoni Staggs
Centre for Bulldogs is number 4 Reimis SmithCentre for Broncos is number 4 Alex Glenn
Winger for Bulldogs is number 5 Jayden OkunborWinger for Broncos is number 5 Jamayne Isaako
Five-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Kieran ForanFive-Eighth for Broncos is number 6 Darius Boyd
Halfback for Bulldogs is number 7 Lachlan LewisHalfback for Broncos is number 7 Jake Turpin
Prop for Bulldogs is number 8 Aiden TolmanProp for Broncos is number 8 Matthew Lodge
Hooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Jeremy Marshall-KingHooker for Broncos is number 9 Andrew McCullough
Prop for Bulldogs is number 10 Dylan NapaProp for Broncos is number 10 Payne Haas
2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Josh Jackson2nd Row for Broncos is number 11 David Fifita
2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Corey Harawira-Naera2nd Row for Broncos is number 12 Matt Gillett
Lock for Bulldogs is number 13 Adam ElliottLock for Broncos is number 13 Patrick Carrigan
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Jack CoggerInterchange for Broncos is number 14 James Segeyaro
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 15 Renouf AtoniInterchange for Broncos is number 15 Thomas Flegler
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 16 Raymond Faitala-MarinerInterchange for Broncos is number 16 Izaia Perese
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Chris SmithInterchange for Broncos is number 17 Rhys Kennedy
- Referee: Grant Atkins
- Referee: Chris Butler
- Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy
Kieran Foran and Darius Boyd have a mammoth 513 NRL games between them and both have found form in recent weeks. For Foran, it was always going to be about keeping out of the casualty ward. He's done that and strong play has followed. For Boyd, the win over the Eels was one of his best performances of 2019 and he's up and about for another crack at finals footy.
For the Bulldogs to win
Their defence has been of the highest order over the last five games with the 16 points scored by Wests Tigers in Round 21 the most during that period. If they can keep the Broncos to two tries or less in this one anything is possible.
For the Broncos to win
When they're on their game, Corey Oates and Jamayne Isaako are a great wing combination. When they're not they can leave Broncos fans scratching their heads. If they both fire against Canterbury the Dogs could be in for a long 80 minutes.
Brett Kimmorley says
Good game, this one. The Dogs have been arm-wrestling great and Kieran Foran has been finding his best form. Without a lot of strike in the No.9 and No.7 jerseys, the Broncos have the best rosters I’ve seen for a long, long time with that forward pack and those outside backs and then Milford at fullback. The Broncos need to take that quality on paper onto the park. Broncos by 6
In his last nine matches, Payne Haas is averaging 211 metres per contest. His lowest output in that period was 154 metres against Melbourne in round 20.
And another thing ...
The Bulldogs have form when it comes to knocking teams out of the finals race in the last round. In 2017 they beat St George Illawarra 26-20 in round 26 to relegate the Red V to ninth spot on the ladder.