NRL issues breach notices to Panthers players
8 hours ago | National Rugby League
Oh god, make it stop
Sunday afternoon looms as the gold standard of finales to the home-and-away season with the Wests Tigers and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs fighting it out in Redcliffe.
In a match guaranteed to be a ratings winner by virtue of featuring two Sydney clubs, the 13th-placed Tigers will showcase their penetrable defence against the 16th-placed Bulldogs in a contest that will have zero impact on the premiership ladder.
Winding down yet another year which has promised little and delivered even less, the Wests Tigers will be hoping a final round victory over the team running last provides sufficient cover for the disappointment of failing to meet pre-season expectations once again (AKA running 9th).
Coming off a 30-16 loss to the Panthers last Sunday, coach Michael Maguire has stuck solid with the bulk of his underperforming roster with Kelma Tuilagi replacing Alex Seyfarth on the bench in the only change.
Getting the better of the Bulldogs on all three occasions since the onset of COVID-19, former captain Moses Mbye will make his final appearance for the club ahead of his move to the other joint venture next season.
Sitting in last position for the past 20 rounds in succession, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will be out to numb the pain of claiming their first wooden spoon in 13 years.
Boasting the worst defence in the league and winning the fewest games of any Canterbury team since decimal currency was introduced to Australia, coach Trent Barrett - the man lauded for improving Penrith's attack last season - has most damningly overseen a team that has scored the fewest points in the league this year.
Stunning the league fraternity by leading the Sea Eagles at halftime only for the natural order to resume with a 36-18 loss last Sunday, Corey Waddell returns in place of Matt Doorey in the second-row while Dylan Napa could come into the final 17 after being included on the extended bench.
Sunday afternoon will see Nick Meaney and Will Hopoate line up in blue and white for the final time before departing to join clubs accustomed to singing the team song more than twice a season.
Last meeting: Round 21 2021 - Bulldogs 16 Wests Tigers 28
Who to watch: In a year that has provided supporters with few glimmers of light, young outside back Tommy Talau has shown signs that better days lay ahead for the joint venture. Cementing a place in the top grade by appearing in all bar two matches this season, the 21-year-old has followed in the footsteps of his father, Willie, by playing predominantly in the centres and crossing for 11 tries. Available from 1 November to explore his playing options beyond next season, Talau shapes as a player capable of thriving in a different environment should the Tigers fail to come to the table with an offer befitting his ability.
Finishing up on Sunday afternoon after ten seasons of service in the NRL, Will Hopoate will be out to make his final appearance with the Bulldogs a memorable one. Debuting in first grade just weeks after becoming an adult in 2010, the 29-year-old outside back will see out his career with English powerhouse St Helens following stints with Manly, Parramatta and Canterbury-Bankstown. Achieving tremendous success as a premiership winner, State of Origin representative and significant contributor in the rise of Tonga on the international stage, Hopoate's religious convictions played a significant part in shaping him into one of the most upstanding players of the modern era.
The favourite: The bookmakers are favouring the team that hasn't played finals football in a decade over the team that has won only two matches all season - what we can say with certainty is the game of rugby league will not be the winner.
My tip: As the lockdown affecting Campbelltown, Balmain, Canterbury and Bankstown continues with no end in sight, supporters of the Tigers and Bulldogs can rest assured in the knowledge that another season of despair and misery will mercifully be over come Sunday night.
The Storm may have equalled the record of 19 consecutive wins held by the Roosters for almost five decades, but these two teams will be doing their damnedest to replicate the unmatched spectacle of rugby league produced by the Jets and Bulldogs in 1982. Draw.
20. Zac Cini 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Tommy Talau 4. Michael Chee-Kam 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Jock Madden 7. Luke Brooks 8. Stefano Utoikamanu 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Thomas Mikaele 11. Shawn Blore 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Alex Twal 14. Joe Ofahengaue 15. Jake Simpkin 16. Tom Amone 23. Kelma Tuilagi 18. James Roberts
1. Nick Meaney 2. Corey Allan 3. Will Hopoate 4. Aaron Schoupp 5. Jayden Okunbor 6. Brandon Wakeham 21. Jake Averillo 8. Ava Seumanufagai 9. Sione Katoa 20. Dylan Napa 10. Jack Hetherington 12. Joe Stimson 13. Josh Jackson 11. Corey Waddell 15. Ofahiki Ogden 16. Chris Patolo 17. Jackson Topine 22. Watson Heleta
Referees: Chris Sutton; Sideline Officials: Phil Henderson, Kasey Badger; Video Referees: Chris Butler;