Round 6 – 4pm EST, 12 Apr, 2015 at ANZ Stadium
TV: Channel Nine, Fox Sports
Weather: Possible showers
The Bulldogs will be looking to put a horror week off the field behind them and do what they do best – rise above controversy.
The Dragons, on the other hand, have won three straight and will look to continue their momentum heading towards the grueling origin period next month.
Canterbury produced its best performance of the season last week against reigning premiers Souths Sydney, attacking the line beautifully for a majority of the contest and successfully restricted Souths’ dangerous play-making.
Despite going down by just one point in the end, Des Hasler’s men suffered several blows with star fullback Brett Morris out indefinitely with injury and suspensions four captain James Graham (4-weeks) and David Klemmer (three weeks).
The Dragons ended Newcastle’s four-game winning streak at Hunter Stadium last week and, after a poor start to the season, have bounced back to put themselves in contention for a top eight spot.
Halves pairing Gareth Widdop and Benji Marshall are reaping the rewards from a successful combination and their kicking game will be pivotal in this affair.
Bulldogs vs. Dragons – form to date
The Dragons have definitely got their season back on track, winning their past three straight, whilst the Bulldogs looked set to have their fourth straight win sewn up last week, before a penalty to Souths turned the match in a dramatic finish.
Last year’s grand finalists got their season off to a poor start, letting their preliminary finalists opponents Penrith skip away with a huge 24-0 lead in round one, however they almost produced a miraculous comeback in the second half to be defeated 24-18 by the mountain men.
The Dragons didn’t fair any better in their opening encounter for the year, going down to the Melbourne Storm at home by 12 points to four. Despite a narrow scoreline, St George struggled with their attack and creativity, which has significantly improved in their next few games thanks largely to halves pairing Marshall and Widdop.
As expected, the Bulldogs bounced back in their second round clash with Parramatta, blowing them away by 32 points to 12. Canterbury’s backs really stood up in to the contest, with their star signing Brett Morris showing great potential as a permanent replacement fullback after scoring two sensational tries.
St George were mauled in round two by a brilliant Wests Tigers outfit, going down 22 points to 4. Coach Steve Price was forced to endure a second straight loss to start the season, with some serious restructuring on the horizon.
Bitter rivals Canterbury and the Sea Eagles were engaged in another tight-knit affair in round three, with Des Hasler’s bulldogs getting the better of Manly at home by 16 points to 12. On a less than impressive Brookvale Oval surface, the Bulldogs had less possession and completed fewer sets than Manly, but managed to hang on for their second win of the season.
The Dragons had a tough assignment in round three, travelling south to take on the Canberra Raiders. Ricky Stuart’s men skipped away to an 18-0 lead after 20 minutes, with the Dragons forced to chance their hand. Trent Merrin crossed just before half time to get St George on the board and a riveting half-time speech from coach Steve Price obviously inspired his side, as they were first to score after the break. The red v managed to seal the win with 5 minutes to go through a converted try, winning by 22 points to 20.
The Wests Tigers led the Bulldogs 24-6 after 60 minutes in their round 4 match, with a traditional Canterbury comeback providing a thrilling 80 minute contest between the two sides. Substitute five-eighth Moses Mbye kicked the winning field goal in the 84th minute to seal the win for the Dogs.
St George produced a faultless display at home against the Sea Eagles in round four, completing 78 per cent of their sets and missing only 12 tackles for the match. The Dragons were victorious in the end, with fullback Josh Dugan getting through a heap of work at the back.
Last year’s grand final replay occurred in round five between Canterbury and Souths Sydney and lived up to the hype. The Dogs led 10-0 before Souths crawled there way back into the game, leveling the scores at 16-all with six minutes remaining.
‘Ice man’ Trent Hodkinson slotted a perfectly-placed field goal, however with just two minutes remaining a controversial ending to a sensational game of football saw Souths successful with a penalty goal, winning 18 points to 17.
Newcastle were unbeaten heading into round five, with the Dragons facing another tough test heading up the highway to Hunter Stadium. In horrible conditions, St George led 6 nil at half time and kept their opposition scoreless in the second half, victorious by 13 points to nil after a Benji Marshall field goal in the 70th minute.
Bulldogs vs. St George – market options and odds
With the Bulldogs under full-strength and the Dragons on a three-game winning streak, Steve Price and his team couldn’t be meeting this Canterbury side at a better time.
Punters have thrown their support behind the Dragons, making them $1.88 favourites over the Dogs who are $1.93.
The line is -1.0 for St George at $1.93 and +1.0 for Canterbury at $1.90.
Margin betting market and odds:
1. Bulldogs 1-12 ($3.10)
2. Bulldogs 13+ ($4.50)
3. Dragons 1-12 ($3.10)
4. Dragons 13+ ($4.50)
This should be a close game and it’s highly unlikely the margin will be 13+ for either side.
If this game goes down to the wire, look for a great field goal battle between Trent Hodkinson and Benji Marshall to separate the two teams.
The half and full time doubles provide some great odds for those looking beyond the simple margins, with the St George/Bulldogs double a juicy $8.00 with CrownBet.com.au. Canterbury have been strong in their second half performances this year and could provide a nice return.
Bulldogs vs. St George -first try scorer markets
*Odds courtesy of Sportsbet.com.au
The Bulldogs have lost captain James Graham, replaced by Tim Browne and fullback Brett Morris will be replaced by Sam Perrett, with Corey Thompson taking his place on the wing. In an interesting move by Des Hasler, Moses Mbye has moved to the centre position for the injured Tim Lafai and Antonio Kaufusi, Llyod Perrett and Chase Stanley come onto the bench.
1. Sam Perrett – $17 at Sportsbet.com.au
2. Curtis Rona – $9.50
3. Josh Morris – $15.00
4. Moses Mbye – $15.00
5. Corey Thompson – $10.00
6. Josh Reynolds – $23.00
7. Trent Hodkinson – $26.00
8. Aiden Tolman – $61.00
9. Michael Lichaa – $34.00
10. Tim Browne – $71.00
11. Josh Jackson – $26.00
12. Tony Williams – $23.00
13. Greg Eastwood – $26.00
St George have an unchanged line-up with Rory O’Brien coming into the squad as 18th man.
1. Josh Dygan – $12.00
2. Etonia Nabuli – $10.00
3. Euan Aitken – $14.00
4. Dylan Farrell – $15.00
5. Jason Nightingale – $10.00
6. Gareth Widdop – $34.00
7. Benji Marshall – $34.00
8. Leeson Ah Mau – $61.00
9. Mitch Rein – $23.00
10. Mike Cooper – $76.00
11. Tyson Frizell – $34.00
12. Joel Thompson – $26.00
13. Trent Merrin – $21.00
Both fullbacks Sam Perrett and Josh Dugan are great odds for first-try scorer and can find the try line.