Dogs Ready To Bite Back

Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au
Ben Barba has been at his scintillating best in the past month. Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au
Last 5 Meetings

Round 3, 2013 – Melbourne Storm 22 d Canterbury Bulldogs 18 at AAMI Park
Grand Final, 2012 – Melbourne Storm 14 d Canterbury Bulldogs 4 at ANZ Stadium
Round 16, 2012 – Canterbury Bulldogs 20 d Melbourne Storm 4 at Virgin Australia Stadium
Round 7, 2012 – Melbourne Storm 12 d Canterbury Bulldogs 6 at AAMI Park
Round 18, 2011 – Melbourne Storm 28 d Canterbury Bulldogs 18 at Adelaide Oval

Current Form

  Rd 13    Rd 14    Rd 15    Rd 16    Rd 17 
Bulldogs

W

W

L

-

L

Storm

W

W

L

L

W


The Bulldogs  welcome Greg Eastwood and Sam Kasiano back for their match against the Storm  of Sunday afternoon, a fixture that has been robbed of some of its star power due to State of Origin commitments. Josh Morris and Josh Reynolds are both in camp with the Blues preparing for the decider on Wednesday week and have been replaced in the side by Tim Lafai and Joel Romelo, but it is the return of Eastwood and Kasiano to the pack that will be most welcomed by coach Des Hasler, after his forwards were outmuscled by the Knights in their 18-12 defeat last weekend.

Melbourne will be without four players owing to representative commitments with Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater away with Queensland, while Ryan Hoffman is plotting their downfall with New South Wales. The absence of the star quartet has brought about some major positional changes, with Justin O’Neill moving to fullback and Ryan Hinchcliffe to hooker, while Ben Hampton will play halfback and Tohu Harris returns to the starting lineup in place of Hoffman. Mahe Fonua, Junior Moors, Junior Sa’u, Mitch Garbutt and Tim Glasby have all been added to the squad that beat Brisbane 30-0 last Friday night on an extended six-man bench.

1st Tryscorer

Although he wasn’t at his brilliant best against the Knights in his hometown of Mackay last weekend, Ben Barba  is once again one of the most feared men in the competition after making a slow start to the season. The Bulldogs fullback has scored five tries in his past four matches and will be up for a big performance having missed the grand final replay between these clubs in round three.

Exciting youngster Ben Hampton  marked his NRL debut against the Titans in round 15 with a double and will look to make the most of his opportunity at the top level with Melbourne’s rep stars unavailable. He opened the scoring at the Gold Coast and will be determined to push his case for a permanent spot in the first grade squad again.

Prediction

Prior to defeats against the Roosters and Knights, Canterbury was the form team in the competition having won seven of their eight previous matches. You wouldn’t think that a game against the defending premiers would be the place to regain winning form but they are bumping into Melbourne at the right time, with the Storm missing their best players; the Storm have won just once in the past decade when Smith, Cronk and Slater were all missing. Canterbury Bulldogs by 10

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