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Bulldogs v Dragons preview - 2017 Round 14
Under-siege Bulldogs prepare for tough showdown with Dragons
The Bulldogs, despite their poor recent form, will certainly not be short of inspiration to overcome the Dragons on Monday afternoon. A shocking display saw Des Hasler's men fall to an embarrassing 38-0 defeat at the hands of Penrith last round, prompting some fans to threaten to boycott Canterbury home games. While these threats will not come to fruition, it still emphasises the discontent within the Bulldogs fan base. Therefore, the Bulldogs will be keen to atone their previous defeats and keep in touch with the Top 8 on Monday afternoon. Helping their cause is the likely return of James Graham, Brett Morris and Josh Reynolds. Chase Stanley also makes his well-deserved return to first grade in place of Brenko Lee.
Meanwhile, there has been no problems for Dragons fans in 2017. Not many would have predicted that Paul McGregor's men would figure in this year's finals, let alone contest for a spot inside the Top 4. Yet, they are on track to do just that if they can maintain their defensive resolve and surprisingly potent attack. However, their 16-12 victory over the Tigers last week was hardly comfortable. McGregor will hope that his side can improve upon their 68% completion rate and 37 missed tackles against the Tigers if they are to prevail on Monday afternoon.
Who to watch: For the home side, look out for the performance of proud five-eighth Josh Reynolds. When it comes to passion, few have more for their club than the enigmatic Reynolds. His enthusiasm and general energy was sorely missed in last week's loss to Penrith and it may be exactly what the Bulldogs need if they are to break a polished Dragons outfit.
However, Reynolds comes up against one the most improved players in 2017 - Dragons five-eighth Gareth Widdop. In his return from injury last week, Widdop was arguably the best on the ground, scoring two tries, running for 128 metres and kicking two goals. In short, he scored all of the Dragons' points last week and will prove a threat for the Bulldogs if they do not shut him down.
The favourite: The Dragons are well backed to take down the underperforming Bulldogs.
My tip: The Bulldogs would have been embarrassed after last week's 38-0 shutout. An ambush may be on the cards if the Dragons do not turn up. Yet, in the end, the Dragons should have enough in attack to sneak home. Dragons by 4
1. William Hopoate 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Chase Stanley 5. Marcelo Montoya 17. Matt Frawley 7. Moses Mbye 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Adam Elliot 13. David Klemmer 14. Sam Kasiano 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Greg Eastwood 20. Kerrod Holland
1. Josh Dugan 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Kurt Mann 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Josh McCrone 8. Russell Packer 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin 14. Tariq Sims 15. Leeson Ah Mau 16. Hame Sele 17. Taane Milne