A fascinating encounter takes place in the NRL tonight at ANZ Stadium as Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs host Sydney Roosters. A few weeks ago this fixture looked to be a case of how could the Bulldogs exploit a Roosters side depleted by State of Origin representatives. Now, it’s more of a case of how can the Roosters take advantage of the unexpected availability of their first choice halves.
With Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney overlooked by New South Wales, the Roosters playmakers will surely be fired up on Friday night. On the other hand, the Bulldogs will be missing their halves combination of Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds and will be handed a stern test of their Premiership credentials.
It will be a big ask for the Bulldogs to extend their winning streak of seven games. Youngster Moses Mbye will come in at halfback, while veteran Reni Maitua will make his first appearance since rejoining the Bulldogs. Krisnan Inu will also make his first appearance since suffering a broken jaw in a pre-season trial.
While the focus has naturally been on the halves combinations, it should not be forgotten that both sides have to contend with the unavailability of key players in other areas. The Bulldogs will be without Josh Morris and Tony Williams, while the Roosters are without Aidan Guerra, Michael Jennings and Daniel Tupou. The loss of Jennings and Tupou will be particularly difficult for the Roosters to cover in the try scoring department.
Friday May 23rd, ANZ Stadium Homebush 19:45
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs v Sydney Roosters