Monday's Expert - 2022 NRL Round 16
6 hours ago | Monday's
It was quite a contrast in weekends for the Wests Tigers and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs who face-off this Sunday afternoon at CommBank Stadium . The Tigers were humiliated in the second half on Sunday as they lost to the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles by 26-points, suffering their 10th loss of the season. In Brett Kimmorley's first game as interim coach, after the sacking of Michael Maguire mid-week, the Tigers collapsed after trailing by just two points at the half-time break.
This culminated in Brent Naden's send-off in the 64th minute after he dangerously spear tackled Jake Trbojevic, causing the Manly forward to land unsafely on his head and neck. That erased all hope of a Tigers comeback as the Sea Eagles added two tries in the final 10 minutes against a 12-men Tigers outfit. It was an ugly performance from the joint venture, who missed an astonishing 50 tackles. Add that to the nine errors and nine penalties the team gave away, and you're left with a recipe on how to not win a game of rugby league. They struggled to create chances with just two line breaks and 23 tackle breaks, an aspect of the game in which they've struggled with this season. Comparatively, the Sea Eagles finished with nine line breaks and 50 tackle breaks. Once again, the Tigers forwards struggled, with only Joe Ofahengaue (141) and Alex Twal (161) surpassing the triple figure mark. Most of the dirty work was left up to the club's outside backs who did their best at attempting to gain yardage. They can't allow that to happen again this weekend, otherwise they'll be staring down the barrel of their 11th loss of the season, and possibly a spot in the dreaded 16th position. To avoid this, the Tigers need to be more disciplined, just like all three of their wins this season as they don't have to personnel to single-handedly break the game open as the better teams in the competition do. The return of Adam Doueihi, albeit on the bench, will provide the Tigers with an extra spark once he enters the game and similarly so for Fa'amanu Brown, who did the job against the Bulldogs earlier in the season. Brown will again, fulfil the role of the ‘14' at the expense of Jock Madden, whilst Asu Kepaoa starts in the centres for the suspended Naden. Kelma Tuilagi starts in the back-row as Luciano Leilua played his 56th and final game for the Tigers on the weekend after being granted an immediate release to sign with the North Queensland Cowboys.
The Bulldogs will be looking for revenge after their 14-point loss to the Tigers in Round 11 and they could not be in better form to do so. After shocking the Rugby League world with a 34-4 point victory over the Parramatta Eels on Monday, the Bulldogs and former Tigers' coach Mick Potter, will be bouncing at the prospect of handing a defeat to the joint venture. A win could potentially propel the Bulldogs into 13th position after spending most of season languishing in last place. It was an impressive performance by the Bulldogs on Monday, as they handed the Eels their fifth defeat of the season on the back of a timely hattrick from Josh Addo-Carr, who has put his best foot forward since his omission from the New South Wales side for Game I. It was Addo-Carr's sixth hattrick of his NRL career and one of the most meaningful to date as it contributed to just his third win in Canterbury colours. It highlighted an impressive performance by the Bulldogs back five, who all surpassed 120 run metres and scored all six of their four-pointers. Five-Eighth, Matt Burton was at his best with three try assists which included a spectacular chip kick, resulting in Addo-Carr's first try of the night.
It was a rejoice for the fans of the club, as they sat back and enjoyed their first victory by more than four-points for the season. A rare treat for fans of the Bulldogs - and Tigers fans for that matter - who will be hoping to witness a repeat this weekend. There's only one change to the team that has the opportunity to win club's back-to-back games for the first time since the 2019 season. Chris Patolo will miss this clash after suffering a head knock on Monday, his replacement, Kurtis Morrin is set to make his NRL debut.
Last meeting: Round 11 2022 - Wests Tigers 36 Bulldogs 22
Who to watch: An interesting matchup to watch this Sunday is the battle of the two fullbacks. Jake Averillo and Daine Laurie are both still young in experience and have shown glimpses this season of what they could become. Firstly, 21-year-old Jake Averillo has only had the two games at fullback this season, after starting the year in the halves before ending up in the centres. Since his move to the back in Round 13, Averillo has shown that spark that excited Bulldogs fans so very much over the past few seasons. On Monday, the fullback scored his second double of the season and ran for a season high 130 metres, a week after breaking six tackles against the defending premiers, the Penrith Panthers. We haven't seen too much of Averillo at fullback, with his last two games representing his only two appearances at fullback, but from the small sample size we've got, he could be one to open up the game on Sunday.
His opposite number, 22-year-old Daine Laurie, has been one of the better players for the Tigers this season. In just his second full season of NRL, Laurie has taken his playmaking up a notch, registering seven try assists in his seven outings this season. Laurie has only made the three line breaks for the season, but that may be a result of the Tigers inability to create those types of opportunities for the former Panther. As a result, his average running metres are down from last season (101.9 down from 134.3 last year), however, he did miss the previous outing between these two sides, which surely would've seen Laurie with greater opportunities as his side didn't struggle to score points that day. It'll be interesting to see how these two players impact Sunday's game, if done so correctly, they could break open the game for their respective teams.
The favourite: After Monday's victory, the Bulldogs enter this game as favourites, which seems almost inconceivable, but the Tigers haven't helped themselves with their embarrassing second half on Sunday. Historically, they've got the wood over the Tigers, winning 24 of the 41 contests between the two, but have only won one of the five matches played since the start of 2020.
My tip: This could sneakily be a close contest, the Bulldogs enter with great form, but the Tigers did defeat them earlier in the season. It's going to be a tight one. Bulldogs by 2.
1. Jake Averillo 2. Jacob Kiraz 3. Aaron Schoupp 4. Corey Allan 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Max King 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Josh Jackson 15. Corey Waddell 13. Tevita Pangai Junior 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 14. Zach Dockar-Clay 16. Joe Stimson 17. Kurtis Morrin 21. Jayden Tanner
1. Daine Laurie 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Starford To'a 4. Asu Kepaoa 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Luke Brooks 7. Jackson Hastings 15. Alex Twal 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Zane Musgrove 11. Luke Garner 12. Kelma Tuilagi 13. Joe Ofahengaue 8. James Tamou 14. Fa'amanu Brown 16. Adam Doueihi 17. Alex Seyfarth 21. Junior Tupou
Referees: Ben Cummins; Sideline Officials: Wyatt Raymond, Darian Furner; Video Referees: Adam Gee;