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The Canterbury Bulldogs will be desperate to turn around a worrying couple of weeks as they do battle with the steadily improving, but still well below par North Queensland Cowboys. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 6pm (AEDT).
The Bulldogs come into this match on a full seven-day turnaround, having been improved, but still poor in key elements as they fell to the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Good Friday.
Canterbury were stronger in defence, although, that wouldn’t be hard when they conceded 40 points to the St George Illawarra Dragons at Kogarah in Round 5.
Only letting in 14 points was a positive sign, but given the speed of the ruck throughout the game, allowed to be a disaster by referee Henry Perenara, maybe the low points total should be taken with a grain of salt.
Still, it was always expected the Bulldogs might be decent in some games, and downright poor in others throughout 2019. Such is the nature of having a young side, with inexperience leading the way in the spine, that confidence will ebb and flow.
At the moment, it’s ebbing after they had beaten the Tigers and taken the Storm all the way, but with players like Lachlan Lewis and Rhyse Martin, it will turn a corner at some point.
The key for the Bulldogs is speed of play on the ball. Jack Cogger and Nick Meaney, while both talented, have struggled to run off their forward pack, because they seem to simply take too long in making their mind up on what play.
While the Bulldogs were expected to be down the bottom half of the ladder this year, this evening’s opponents, the Cowboys, certainly weren’t by the majority.
They were hopeful of getting Jason Taumalolo back this evening, but he will be missing for the contest, and it’s been a big blow to their hopes.
The forwards – still a talented pack, mind you – have been well below the level they needed to be at throughout games this year, although there were signs of improvement against the New Zealand Warriors last week in a 17-10 win.
Given it’s their pack which has been struggling, they will need to be at their best tonight against a pack who held Souths solidly last week, however, if it’s even in the forwards, you’d think Michael Morgan, Jack Clifford and Te Maire Martin will be able to go to work solidly in the spine.
The Bulldogs will be out to pick up a big win at home, but they haven’t shown enough to back tipping them. If the game is played to the Cowboys still, they should build on last week and take the win, but this could definitely go either way.
Cowboys by 8.
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Kick-off: 6pm (AEDT)
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Homebush
TV: Live, Fox League 502
Online: Live, Foxtel app, Foxtel now, Kayo Sports, NRL Digital pass
Betting: Bulldogs $1.80, Cowboys $2.14
Overall record: Played 37, Bulldogs 22, Cowboys 15
Last meeting: 2018, Round 6 – Cowboys 10 defeated by Bulldogs 27 at 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville
Last five: Cowboys 4, Bulldogs 1
Record at venue: Played 7, Cowboys 4, Bulldogs 3
Referees: Chris Sutton, Phil Henderson
1. Nick Meaney, 2. Jayden Okunbor, 3. Kerrod Holland, 4. William Hopoate, 5. Reimis Smith, 6. Jack Cogger, 7. Lachlan Lewis, 8. Aiden Tolman, 9. Jeremy Marshall-King, 10. Ofahiki Ogden, 11. Josh Jackson (c), 12. Corey Harawira-Naera, 13. Rhyse Martin
Interchange: 14. Michael Lichaa, 15. Danny Fualalo, 16. Adam Elliott, 17. Chris Smith, 19. Christian Crichton, 20. Marcelo Montoya, 21. Fa’amanu Brown, 22. Renouf To’omaga
1. Te Maire Martin, 2. Justin O’Neill, 3. Jordan Kahu, 4. Enari Tuala, 5. Ben Hampton, 6. Jake Clifford, 7. Michael Morgan, 8. Matthew Scott, 9. Jake Granville, 10. Jordan McLean, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Josh McGuire, 13. John Asiata
Interchange: 14. Kurt Baptiste, 15. Coen Hess, 16. Scott Bolton, 17. Francis Molo, 18. Corey Jensen, 19. Tom Opacic, 20. Jason Taumalolo, 21. Mitchell Dunn