Full Time
6:00pm Fri May 5, 2023
Round 10 - Suncorp Stadium, Milton / Yuggera-Turrbal - Crowd: 41462

Round 10: Bulldogs v Raiders preview

Magic Round is back and it starts off with two sides coming off narrow victories as the Canberra Raiders take on the Canterbury Bulldogs to kick off the double header on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium.

High expectations lead Bulldogs fans to a promising 2023 but the football gods haven't been kind to the Belmore Boys with an injury crisis and some poor performances hampering their efforts across the opening nine rounds seeing them sit in 13th spot with four wins and five losses so far and yet to have the bye.

Last weekend though, the Canterbury Bulldogs showed that they aren't a side that gives up easily as they were able to hold-off a charging St George Illawarra Dragons side in Wollongong last week with an 18-16 victory. The resilience of the Blue and White was on show when they came under considerable pressure in the second half especially when trailing by just two points, they had to play with just 12 men for a period. The Bulldogs held on for the victory last Sunday 18-16 despite the immense pressure they came under.

The Bulldogs have had a mixed week team wise with some injury forced changes but some positive news to go with these forced changes. Canterbury have lost winger Braidon Burns through a knee injury after a brave performance last week against the Dragons. The positive though is that Jacob Kiraz returns from his knee injury suffered a few weeks back against Parramatta. The Bulldogs also welcome back Max King from a rib injury back into the front row.

Controversy follows the Canberra Raiders wherever they go and it's been the case in their up and down season so far in 2023 as they head into Magic Round sitting in 11th spot with four wins and four losses including a massive upset over the Broncos and a huge loss to the Penrith Panthers.

A week of headlines plagued the Raiders and they followed their 31-30 Golden Point victory over the Dolphins in Wagga Wagga. The Canberrans started the game strongly but were almost run down by the Redcliffe based side. The win for the Raiders came off a controversial set restart call that put Canberra deep into attack despite a knock-on being missed from Hudson Young in the lead up.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has only made the one change to his starting side with Xavier Savage returning to the NRL side after biding his time in recent weeks in the NSW Cup. His return back to the Raiders NRL side comes in the place of Albert Hopoate who is out of the squad completely. One other change for the Raiders sees Ata Mariota return to the bench after injury with Corey Harawira-Naera dropping to the reserves.

Last meeting: Round 9 2022 - Raiders 14 Bulldogs 4

Who to watch: Returning to the starting side, Josh Reynolds is a fan favourite but has found himself under pressure with his short fuse attracting attention of even the CEO of the NRL Andrew Abdo after last weekend. Reynolds has to play a big part especially with his experience and in the key position of five-eighth he has to take a leadership role in controlling the play.

It's probably like a broken record, but Jack Wighton is the player to watch and not necessarily because of the contract dramas of the past few weeks, but the leadership that he needs to show to get the Raiders a fourth straight win. Now without the pressure of representative selection, Wighton can lead the charge up the ladder for the Raiders.

The favourite: The Raiders are strong favourites with three straight victories including a win over league leaders the Brisbane Broncos.

My tip: On paper the Raiders should be winning this game based on recent form. However, there is just something about the Bulldogs that makes me want to tip them this week. The Bulldogs can pull something out of the bag and with the return of Jacob Kiraz and Max King, the spark can come back to the Doggies. Bulldogs by 8.