Dragons finish on a high over under-strength Melbourne
15 hours ago | Josh Robertson
Desperation days for the joint venture
Conceding more than 40 points each last week, the Wests Tigers and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will be out to stiffen their defence in a must-win clash at Bankwest Stadium.
Producing their worst performance of the season in going down to Newcastle 44-4 last Saturday, the Wests Tigers will need to win on Sunday afternoon to have any credible claim to remain in contention for the eight.
Completing at 65 per cent, producing 15 errors and conceding eight tries last week, coach Michael Maguire will be hoping his team can improve upon a poor run of form that has seen the side manage one win from their last six.
Currently sitting four points outside the top eight in tenth position, a loss could see the Tigers fall as low as 12th with matches against the Roosters, Panthers, Storm and Eels still to play over the final six weeks.
Swinging the selection axe once again, Jacob Liddle, Luke Garner and Josh Reynolds come into the squad, while Asu Kepaoa, Shawn Blore and Billy Walters all miss out in the latest round of changes made following a loss.
Condemned to the bottom of the premiership ladder after recording just two wins this season, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will be viewing Sunday's clash as an opportunity to improve their fortunes.
Lacking the class to go with the Storm for 80 minutes during last Saturday's 41-10 loss on the Sunshine Coast, interim coach Steve Georgallis will be hoping the Blue and Whites can continue a solid record against the joint venture after winning three of the past four meetings.
Capable of moving off the bottom of the premiership ladder with a win, the match will see Aiden Tolman equal Josh Morris as the ninth most capped played for the club.
Set to be without playmaker Lachlan Lewis due to suspension, Jack Cogger will start at halfback for the second time this season, while Kerrod Holland earns a recall with Jake Averillo out through injury.
Last meeting: Round 7 2020 - Bulldogs 6 Wests Tigers 34
Who to watch: Returning to the Tigers' ranks for the first time this season, Jacob Liddle will be out to cement his place as the club's long-term number nine. Suffering an anterior cruciate ligament tear twelve months ago, the 23-year-old Wyong Roos junior has shown signs of promise since debuting midway through 2016 only for injuries to arise at inopportune times. Set to share the hooking duties alongside former Canterbury fan favourite Josh Reynolds on Sunday afternoon, Liddle will be out to reassure supporters that their affection for Harry Grant is only temporary as the Tigers look to end a run of three straight losses.
Flying under the radar as the Bulldogs' leading try-scorer this season, back-rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner will be determined to lead his side off the bottom of the premiership ladder. Signing a two-year extension with the club three weeks ago, the 27-year-old has shown plenty of talent since graduating from the Warriors' prestigious Under 20s nursery only to struggle with consistency in the top grade. Enjoying his strongest season since representing New Zealand two years ago, look for Faitala-Mariner to combine with Kieran Foran close to the line as the Bulldogs fight to secure their third win of the season.
The favourite: Set to play in daylight hours for only the second time this season, the Tigers are expected to bounce back at Bankwest.
My tip: Having been humbled by the Tigers earlier this season at Bankwest, the Bulldogs will fancy their chances of pulling off an upset in a low-scoring affair. Bulldogs by 6.
1. Adam Doueihi 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joseph Leilua 4. Moses Mbye 5. Tommy Talau 6. Luke Brooks 7. Benji Marshall 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Russell Packer 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Luke Garner 13. Matt Eisenhuth 15. Josh Reynolds 16. Sam McIntyre 20. Alex Seyfarth 21. Elijah Taylor
1. Nick Meaney 17. Reimis Smith 3. Tim Lafai 4. Kerrod Holland 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Kieran Foran 7. Jack Cogger 8. Ofahiki Ogden 9. Sione Katoa 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Luke Thompson 14. Jeremy Marshall-King 15. Aiden Tolman 16. Sauaso Sue 22. Matt Doorey
Referees: Matt Cecchin; Sideline Officials: Gavin Badger, Liam Kennedy; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy, Bryan Norrie;