Wests Tigers will look to continue their late run to the 2018 finals series when they take on the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs this Friday night at ANZ Stadium.
Seemingly out of contention a month ago when they lost in disappointing fashion to the Gold Coast Titans at Leichhardt Oval, Ivan Cleary's side have rediscovered the form that led them to the "giant-killer" tag of the opening six weeks with stunning upset wins over the Dragons and Souths in the past fortnight.
They now come in to Friday's game just four points outside the top eight — a gap that could be reduced further by the round's end given the Panthers, Broncos and Warriors all sit on 24 competition points.
Robbie Farah's return and Moses Mbye's arrival has breathed new life in to Cleary's side, with their attacking potency growing with every game that passes. With Luke Brooks and Benji Marshall controlling the game superbly from the halves, this Wests Tigers side is proving to be a tough team to shake regardless of the score, and they'll no doubt prove to be a handful this Friday against the desperate Bulldogs.
Since Mbye's departure from Belmore a month ago, it's been a tough time for Dean Pay's side who find themselves sitting equal last on the competition ladder with just one win from their last five games.
What's potentially been even more frustrating for the side is the fact they haven't necessarily played too badly, either. Leading by 14 points against the Raiders late on, it looked like Canterbury were going to chalk up a commanding win before collapsing late, while last week's loss to Parramatta could easily have gone the other way if the Bulldogs could find a little more polish to their end of sets close to the line.
Rectifying that will no doubt be the focus for them this week as they look to move off the bottom of the ladder and away from the Eels and Cowboys on 10 points, and they'll need no more motivation than taking on Mbye and his new Wests Tigers teammates this weekend. Ivan Cleary's side got the points when these two met earlier in the year — thanks to another former favourite son in Josh Reynolds — and the Bulldogs will be keen to get one back by ending the momentum built up by Wests Tigers over the past few weeks.
It's been well-documented this year the number of games that Wests Tigers really should have won, particularly against teams currently around them on the competition ladder, and as a result, Friday's game against the Bulldogs will be no less important for the side in their bid to keep their finals hopes alive.
David Nofoaluma will play his 100th NRL game for the club in another special milestone, while Wests Tigers will be looking to do the double over the Bulldogs for the first time in a season since 2005...
Date — Friday, July 27
Time — 7:50pm AEST
Venue — ANZ Stadium
TV, RADIO AND LIVE STREAM INFORMATION
TV — Live via FOX League (Ch.502) and Channel 9
Radio — AM 702 ABC Grandstand, AM 2GB 873
Live Stream — Foxtel Go, 9Now, NRL Digital Pass, Watch NRL Streaming (exc. Australia)
LATEST CROWNBET ODDS
H2H — Wests Tigers ($1.45), Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs ($2.75)
Line — Wests Tigers -6.5 ($1.92), Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs +6.5 ($1.92)
Match: Bulldogs v Wests Tigers
Round 20 -
Fullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Will HopoateFullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Moses Mbye
Winger for Bulldogs is number 2 Brett MorrisWinger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David Nofoaluma
Centre for Bulldogs is number 3 Josh MorrisCentre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Esan Marsters
Centre for Bulldogs is number 4 Kerrod HollandCentre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Kevin Naiqama
Winger for Bulldogs is number 5 Reimis SmithWinger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Corey Thompson
Five-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Lachlan LewisFive-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Benji Marshall
Halfback for Bulldogs is number 7 Jeremy Marshall-KingHalfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke Brooks
Prop for Bulldogs is number 8 Aiden TolmanProp for Wests Tigers is number 8 Russell Packer
Hooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Michael LichaaHooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Robbie Farah
Prop for Bulldogs is number 10 David KlemmerProp for Wests Tigers is number 10 Ben Matulino
2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Josh Jackson2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Michael Chee-Kam
2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Rhyse Martin2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Luke Garner
Lock for Bulldogs is number 13 Adam ElliottLock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Elijah Taylor
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Fa'amanu BrownInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Alex Twal
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 15 Greg EastwoodInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Sauaso Sue
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 16 Ofahiki OgdenInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Matthew Eisenhuth
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Danny FualaloInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 19 Chris McQueen
- Referee: Matt Cecchin
- Referee: Chris Butler
- Touch Judge: Tim Roby
- Senior Review Official: Ashley Klein
Luke Garner starts in place of Josh Aloiai (hand) with Robbie Rochow coming on to the bench for Wests Tigers, while Ofahiki Ogden replaces Clay Priest (suspension) in the only change for the Bulldogs.
Overall — Played 34, Wests Tigers 13, Bulldogs 20, Drawn 1
At ANZ Stadium — Played 21, Wests Tigers 9, Bulldogs 12, Drawn 0
Last Time They Met — Wests Tigers 14 def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 10 (Rd.12, 2018)
Match Referees —Matt Cecchin and Chris Butler
Touch Judges — Tim Roby and Brett Suttor
Review Officials — Ben Galea and Ashley Klein