Bulldogs v Panthers preview - 2017 Round 13

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Penrith Panthers Sunday 4:00pm at ANZ Stadium

Crunch game for both sides in Sunday footy clash

The last game for round 13 sees a clash that will be pivotal to both side's chances of playing finals football. The home side the Bulldogs have dropped the last three and have struggled to post points. Des Hasler-coached sides normally don't struggle with these things and it is hard to seeing them lose a fourth straight game.

That said, they are coming up against a rejuvenated Penrith Panthers side that are quickly instilling itself as the comeback kings. Come-from-behind wins over the Warriors and Newcastle Knights have been impressive but their openings to games have still been very poor.

This game will be won in the backline as both sets of forwards have been very good this year and will no doubt lay a platform for the backs to do their thing. Should be a very absorbing contest.

Last meeting: Finals Wk 1 2016 - Panthers 28 Bulldogs 12

The Panthers outclassed the Dogs in last year's final series in a physical affair. It has been very even of late between the two clubs with the Panthers winning four and the Dogs three in the last seven matches. The Dogs need just three tries to reach 800 tries at ANZ Stadium, while Penrith need four tries to score 100 tries at the same venue.

Who to watch: The Dogs form has been scratchy lately and their struggle for points is hindering them a lot. Last week's effort against the Sharks where it scored just eight points minus the Sharks origin players was hard to watch for the Dogs fans. Newly re-signed fullback Will Hopoate needs to stand up and be counted on Sunday with a huge effort. His ability to bring others into the attack cannot be understated and with still no Josh Reynolds it will be up to the Fullback to set up his outside men using his pace and quick passing skills. Canterbury need a lift and Hopoate can be the man to give it to them.

The Panthers form has improved over the last two weeks and it will hope to make it three wins on the trot on Sunday. With the loss of Bryce Cartwright for most of the rest of the season, Matt Moylan shifts into the halves and will be counted on heavily to perform. A natural ball player look at Moylan as he takes on the line and tries to attract defenders. He has a great step, good speed and wonderful vision and if he can find his groove the Panthers could have a lot of success on Sunday. His combination with his big back rowers running on the edge will be a stock play.

The favourite: The Panthers slim favourites on the back of the Bulldogs poor form.

My tip: Still think the Dogs have the ability to turn this around after a tough last month. I feel that if they start well they'll have enough to trouble the panthers even if they start to come back. Won't be a lot of points but another solid defensive effort will get the Dogs of war home. Bulldogs by 4.

1. William Hopoate 20. Marcelo Montoya 3. Josh Morris 4. Brenko Lee 5. Kerrod Holland 6. Matt Frawley 7. Moses Mbye 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 14. Sam Kasiano 11. Josh Jackson 12. Adam Elliot 13. David Klemmer 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Greg Eastwood 17. Craig Garvey 19. Francis Tualau

1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Waqa Blake 5. Dallin Watene Zelezniak 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Mitch Rein 10. Regan Campbell-Gillard 11. Corey Harawira 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Trent Merrin 14. Tyrone Peachey 15. Leilani Latu 16. Tim Browne 17. Viliame Kikau

Referees: Grant Atkins, Alan Shortall; Sideline Officials: Dave Ryan, Chris Sutton; Video Referees: Bernard Sutton, Luke Patten;

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