The season previews continue as we preview every NRL team by talking to their own fans.
Earlier in the week I mapped out an unlikely pathway for the Bulldogs to make the semi-finals.
There were a few variables but I wrote about what I saw as the path of least resistance. Path of least resistance is, of course, a relative term. Even the straightforward route to September required the Bulldogs to win all three of their games and have 11 other results go their way.
A 14-game multi placed this likelihood at a tick under 13,000/1.
While there are two games remaining in Round 23, the Storm versus Titans and Raiders versus Sea Eagles clashes don’t have a direct impact on the Dogs’ season, so we can review the weekend that was and start looking towards the horizon.
All in all, miracle week one went exceptionally well. Canterbury’s season could have been over on Thursday night, but they cleared the first hurdle by winning a typically furious encounter against the Eels.
The Dogs also needed upset victories from the Cowboys and the Rabbitohs who duly obliged. Three from three. Only 11 to go.
Come Saturday the Bulldogs required an even more unlikely result. The Warriors to win at PointsBet Stadium (aka Shark Park). Close.
42-16 to the Sharks. This put the Dogs into sudden death.
Originally, Dogs fans were rooting for the Knights to beat the Tigers. That changed with the Sharks’ win and suddenly we’d donned the black, white and gold. Fortune was again on the Bulldogs’ side with the Tigers recording a huge 46-4 win.
So the mighty Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs’ unlikely semi-final hopes somehow roll on into the penultimate round.
From here there are no second chances. Every result has to go this way.
In Round 24 the Bulldogs need to win against the Cowboys in Townsville and the Eels to beat the Broncos in Brisbane. The biggest risk of all comes with the Titans somehow turning their season around and beating the Knights in Newcastle. At Old Boys Day, no less. From there it’s the slightly more certain Roosters to beat the Panthers and then the 15th-placed Dragons over the Tigers, both games at the SCG.
Should all of that occur, Round 25 looks relatively straight forward requiring the Dogs to beat the Broncos on Saturday afternoon and a super Sunday series of scores with the Sharks to win at Leichhardt and the Knights to bounce back against the Panthers.
All of a sudden the odds have come into about 165/1. Only the most optimistic fan would view that as a positive, but it’s far better than the 13,000/1 we were at a couple of days ago.
Bring on Thursday.