Full Time
7:35pm Sat August 10, 2019
Round 21 - ANZ Stadium - Crowd: 9636

Round 21: Bulldogs v Wests Tigers preview

Tigers look to cement finals position in danger game against spirited Bulldogs

For Michael Maguire's men, all they can do to assure themselves a finals berth is keep on winning.

With a superior for-and-against to the Penrith Panthers and a relatively soft end to the year it isn't a completely unrealistic goal.

But this is a familiar position for the Tigers, who have finished in ninth place twice in the past three years.

Now their destiny is in their hands, with a finals appearance beckoning for the first time since 2011.

Unlike the Panthers, Wests need to make this week's meeting with the lowly Bulldogs count.

Coach Maguire would have been pleased with the way his side easily disposed of the Cowboys last week.

Instead of simply cruising to victory and playing at North Queensland's level the Tigers rose to the occasion, Esan Marsters in particular impressing after an inconsistent couple of weeks.

It means that Maguire has been able to name an unchanged squad, a clear sign that he believes this team has answered his call to stand up a couple of weeks ago.

They won't have it all their way though against a dogged Canterbury side.

It was only earlier this year that the Bulldogs broke through for their first win of the year against the Tigers, 22 points to 8 at Campbelltown.

Dean Pay's men weren't in the best form then either so the Tigers will be wary of complacency.

The Bulldogs scrapped their way to a hard-fought 16-8 win over Penrith last week and it was their work without the ball in hand that impressed the most.

The Panthers enjoyed a lion's share of possession yet were only able to crack Canterbury once.

With their season all but over, coach Pay would have been overjoyed to see the level of commitment from his players.

Former Panther Dallin Watene-Zelezniak's desperate try-saving tackle on Liam Martin was especially impressive.

Pay will be demanding a similar level of effort on Saturday as the Bulldogs look to climb further away from the last-placed Titans.

They will have to do it without Adam Elliott (finger), with Chris Smith taking his spot at lock and Raymond Faitala-Mariner coming onto the bench.

Last meeting: Round 3 2019 - Wests Tigers 8 Bulldogs 22

The Tigers' perfect start to the season came to a halt at the hands of the Bulldogs in Round 3 at Campbelltown.

Who to watch: The battle of the fullbacks shapes as an interesting one. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak put in arguably his strongest performance of the year last week against his former side. Every run out of his own end had venom and helped the Bulldogs start their sets off with plenty of momentum. This week, he comes up against Corey Thompson, who has established himself as one of the competition's most underrated players this year. Despite only standing at 178cm tall, like DWZ, Thompson fights for every metre and has had a habit of busting tackles, with 80 to his name in 2019. Both are explosive number ones who work hard to repay their forwards for their work up front. 

The favourite: The Tigers are well-backed to take one step closer to securing a spot in the finals. 

My tip: Wests need to be fully committed here or risk suffering the same fate as Penrith against a Bulldogs side with plenty of nuisance value. Wests Tigers by 8.