Thu, May 9, 2:49pm by Rob Sheeley
Match: New Zealand Warriors vs Canterbury Bulldogs – NRL Round 9
When/Where: 7:30pm Saturday, 11 May 2013 at Westpac Stadium
NRL Betting Site of the Week: www.Bet365.com
Tenth place up against fourteenth may not sound too exciting on paper, but this contest looks an enthralling match up. The Warriors take this week’s game to Wellington where they face a much improved Bulldogs outfit.
The Warriors looked solid in their win over the Titans last weekend although it was not without a few anxious moments. They did seal the victory with a field goal in the dying minutes which gave them a seven point lead. A Titans try on the bell meant that the Warriors only won by a solitary point (25-24).
The win again showed the Warriors are tough to beat in New Zealand and although this game is not at their regular home ground, they are still not too far away. The fourteenth placed Warriors are currently rated as $81 premiership chances.
The Bulldogs have managed to pull their season out of the doldrums and get it back on track in the last two weeks. After a 24-8 win over the Sharks two weeks ago, they backed it up with a 40-4 annihilation of an under strength Tigers last week.
The Bulldogs now find themselves in tenth place and bookies are taking no risks on them. They are currently just $11 in premiership markets.
• Warriors have lost 3 of their last 5 against the Bulldogs.
• The Warriors & Bulldogs have met 29 times. Warriors have won 12, Bulldogs 15, 2 draws.
• The Warriors have lost their last 4 at Westpac Stadium.
• The Bulldogs have won their last 3 at Westpac Stadium.
The Warriors welcome back Konrad Hurrell and Glen Fisiiahi from injury for this week’s clash and both are timely returns. Fisiiahi will replace Kevin Locke who was injured last week whilst Hurrell comes in for Jerome Ropati who was also injured in the same match.
1. Glen Fisiiahi
2. Bill Tupou
3. Ben Henry
4. Konrad Hurrell
5. Manu Vatuvei
6. Thomas Leuluai
7. Shaun Johnson
8. Sam Rapira
9. Nathan Friend
10. Russell Packer
11. Feleti Mateo
12. Simon Mannering (c)
13. Todd Lowrie
14. Ben Matulino
15. Jacob Lillyman
16. Elijah Taylor
17. Pita Godinet
18. Carlos Tuimavave
The Warriors finally got the job done at home last weekend after some narrow losses against quality opposition in recent times. They skipped out to a lead against the Titans and sealed the win with a late field goal from Shaun Johnson to put them seven in front. It proved to be a master stroke with a late Titans try right on full time getting them within one point of the Warriors (25-24).
It was a good win for the team who, up until last week, had managed just one victory in season 2013 despite coming close to beating the top two teams.
In Round 7, they looked to have the Storm at their mercy with just ten minutes remaining. As usual, the Storm found a way to win but the quality football produced by the Warriors in that match was a feature.
In Round 6 they built a lead against the Raiders in Canberra but capitulated to lose by four points (20-16). This looked to be a golden opportunity gone begging.
It was a similar scenario the week before in New Zealand against the South Sydney team. The Warriors appeared to have them beaten for all money. Yet somehow they allowed the Rabbitohs to perform a great escape and went down by two points (24-22).
The Warriors proved last weekend that they do actually have the tenacity to finish off the full eighty minutes of a match. Matthew Elliott will be desperate to see them reproduce that consistently. If they can, there is no doubt that we will see them winning more often.
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The Bulldogs have named the same seventeen players that annihilated the Tigers last week. They have also named Martin Taupau and Tim Browne on an extended bench.
1. Ben Barba
2. Mitch Brown
3. Josh Morris
4. Tim Lafai
5. Sam Perrett
6. Josh Reynolds
7. Trent Hodkinson
8. Aiden Tolman
9. Michael Ennis (c)
10. Sam Kasiano
11. Tony Williams
12. Frank Pritchard
13. Greg Eastwood
14. Dene Halatau
15. Josh Jackson
16. James Graham
17. Dale Finucane
20. Martin Taupau
21. Tim Browne
The Bulldogs have turned their form around in the last two weeks. They made it back to back victories last weekend with a 40-4 flogging of the Tigers that suggests they are starting to form some sort of winning combination again. No doubt boosted by the return of star forwards James Graham and Sam Kasiano the Bulldogs look to be well and truly back to the team they were expected to be at the start of the season.
Prior to last weekend the Bulldogs made a much awaited return to the winners list in Round 7 with a 24-8 victory over the Sharks. Things were becoming desperate for the blue and whites prior to that. They now boast a record of two wins and five losses.
In Round 6, the Bulldogs were given a chance to beat the Roosters in what was being billed as a block buster. The result was anything but that for Bulldogs fans. The Roosters delivered the Bulldogs a 38-0 flogging. They looked out of sorts and nowhere near the standard they will need to be to be a top eight prospect.
Round 5 wasn’t much better for the Canterbury Bankstown team. They were again out played, this time by the Sea Eagles. They looked unable to compete, particularly up front and eventually lost by fourteen points (20-16).
Their losses in Round 3 and 4 at the hands of Melbourne and South Sydney respectively were much better. They remained right in the contest on both occasions.
Des Hasler looks to have his team back on the right track and will be looking for a win here to build some real momentum for the rest of the season.
The Warriors win was very important for the club in so many ways last week. The fact that they now have faith in their ability to close out an eighty minute match is one of them. The Warriors know they are good enough to put points on the best that the NRL has to offer but have shown that they have struggled to hold onto healthy leads so far in 2013. Last week’s win may be a turning point.
The key man for the Warriors has been Shaun Johnson. His kicking game (which included a vital 40/20 last week) has been superb. His running and evasive skills are his forte and his passing continues to improve every game. His role in this game will mean everything to the Warriors chances of winning.
The Bulldogs return to form has also coincided with the return of two of their best forwards from injury and suspension, Sam Kasiano and James Graham. Their presence has bolstered the Bulldog forward pack and will be pivotal in their charge towards the top end of the ladder.
Tony Williams appeared to be much more interested in being involved last weekend, particularly once his side started to dominate. It will be interesting to see if he is as heavily involved this week.
Head to Head Bets
Warriors – $2.45
Warriors 1-12 – $4.05
Warriors 13+ – $5.35
Bulldogs 1-12 – $3.10
Bulldogs 13+ – $3.00
Warriors +4.5- $1.91
Bulldogs -4.5 – $1.91
I think the Warriors have shown enough form at home to suggest that they will well and truly give the Bulldogs a run for their money in this. However the Bulldogs look a revitalised team and take some real momentum into this. I’ll take them in a tight one.
Bulldogs by 4
– The Bulldogs 1-12 looks better value than the head to head and is currently $3.10.
– The Bulldogs head to head at $1.57 is acceptable.
– I like Josh Morris to score the first try of the match at $13 at Bet365.com.
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