We are getting down to the business end of the season in the NRL and we have two teams battling each other that couldn’t have had more contrasting seasons.
The home side the Newcastle Knights will be hoping for another competitive performance this week against a Canterbury side that was extremely flat in the 2nd half against St George Illawarra last week. The Knights made the score look respectable last week against Manly but if truth is to be told, they were completely outclassed in the first 15 minutes by a Sea Eagles side that found many chinks in the armour of the Knights. That defense needs to step up ten fold to stick with the Bulldogs who have attacking weapons all over the field. The return of Jarrod Mullen is sure to bolster their chances of victory but will it be enough?
Canterbury were very average in the second half against the Dragons last week and know that won’t be enough against quality teams in the back end of the season to get the job done. They seemed content with defending their lead, there is no doubt that their attack is good but can their defence step up against the big guns? This will be a real test of their defense and will be interesting to see if the Dogs switch off like they did last week against St George Illawarra. They are certainly a dark horse for the 2016 season so keep a close eye on the Bulldogs in their run in to the finals in 2016.
Last Meeting: Canterbury Bulldogs 20 defeated Newcastle Knights 18 at Hunter Stadium, Round 25, 2015.
Despite the Knights struggles this year, they have had some recent success against the Bulldogs despite losing the last two clashes between the two sides.
They have recorded 4 wins in the past 7 against Canterbury so the Belmore boys should be on the lookout for the upset.
Who To Watch: For the Knights they need a huge game from Jarrod Mullen in his return from a hamstring injury. After having an injury disrupted year, Mullen will be very keen to put in a stellar effort against the Bulldogs and will no doubt step up for the occasion.
Look for his short kicking to lead the way particularly if the Knights defense can build some early pressure and dominate the field territory. Mullen’s kicking game will determine how well the Knights go in this clash.
Canterbury have been a bit up and down of late but one of their players that has been Mr consistent has been their “English bulldog” James Graham. Graham has continually Plowed through opposition defenses and always takes on opposition forwards head on with unrivalled aggression.
His metres after contact are very impressive and has some very silky ball playing skills with assists the Dogs Halves a lot.
Look for him to beak through and pop offloads around the ruck to create some second phase play and open up some space for their Dogs creative backs.
The Favourite: Canterbury are warm favourites in this clash.
My Tip: Expect to see the Bulldogs to keep up their winning ways. The Knights have been better of late but to be honest their squad isn’t good enough to knock over this Bulldogs side. Would be a massive boil over if it occurred.
Bulldogs by 8.
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