Canterbury Bulldogs Vs North Queensland Cowboys
11 May 2017, 7:50pm (AEST) ANZ Stadium
Unfortunately this game is missing big names from both teams, which will sour this tough match up. Which team will miss it’s half the most, will that will decide the game. Let’s have a look.
Canterbury Bulldogs, 8th, 5-0-4
A massive confidence boost to the Bulldogs with a gutsy win over the Canberra Raiders by 6 points. The Morris brothers showing why they can still play origin by putting on a Master class on “Lei-Pana”. The determination of the squad was on full display when they lost both Graham and J. Reynolds to HIA and injury. They did not falter in the middle third and handled the attacking plays thrown at them. This will hold them in good stead this week, against a Cowboys outfit missing a super star and welcoming a few players back, which will disrupt some combinations. W. Hopoate is playing like a man possessed (and is off contract) his timely return to form really adds some depth to the Bulldogs and is one to watch for us.

North Queensland Cowboys, 9th 5-0-4
It’s the age old question, can the Cowboys win without J. Thurston. A very ordinary start to the year and it continued this way as they were defeated by a rampaging Eels, led by one C. Norman at home, 6-26. It took 64 minutes for them to cross the line, if they take that long to score this week, it will not be a pretty sight for their faithful fans. 13 incomplete sets really highlighted their performance in a nut shell. No matter who you play, if you complete at 66% you will be hammered, the obvious statement is they need to switch this statistic 180 degrees to be able to compete against the Bulldogs. Taumalolo needs help, he is a monster, but he can’t carry this team, last week he carried the ball for 115m, the nearest forward was Bolton with a poultry 84m. A few big inclusions for them this week, will they help Taumalolo to combat a building Bulldogs pack? Time will tell.
Stats that matter from Round 9
Completion rate: BUL 82%, NQ 66%
Run meters: BUL 1,848m, NQ 1,251m
If the numbers look the same after the final whistle, the Bulldogs have a large win next to their name.
Team news: (Final team lists released an hour before the game)
Canterbury Bulldogs team changes:
J. Reynolds is out with a ham string injury, approximately 5 weeks. This allows M. Frawley to start. The other change is G. Eastwood to start and Score trying sensation A. Elliot is bumped back to warm the bench.
North Queensland Cowboys team changes:
Put the kettle on, we are going to be here for a while; ok the Big IN’s are J. Granville and L. Coote. Also a surprise inclusion of R. Thomson in for the injured J. Thurston, which signals the end to the “Asiata” experiment in the halves. He moves back to the front row, with E. Lowe and S. Fensom making the starting side and bench respectfully. Second row sensation, C. Hess is named on the bench also with K. Ponga dropped to number 21 to make way for L. Coote. Granville returns to the hooker position, moving Hampton to a utility role on the bench and Leary to number 19.
However, we aren’t sold on their starting line-up, with the high chance of L. Coote switching to the Halves and K. Ponga to full back. This would push out R. Thompson who has come out of right field. But as it says above final team lists will be known an hour from kick off. A small hint will come tonight around 8pm, when they will have to drop two players for the 21 list. If Ponga is still there he may be a late inclusion, if he is dropped off, we believe 1-13 will be correct.

Their last 5 game report card:
Canterbury Bulldogs have won only the one game (away) from the last 5 starts.
North Queensland Cowboys take a dominate 4 wins into this match up, two of those were away wins.
2016 – Round 25 – NQ won by 8 points at Belmore Stadium
2016 – Round 20 – NQ won by 36 points at 1300 SMILES Stadium
2015 – Round 9 – NQ won by 7 at 1300 SMILES Stadium
2014 – Round 20 – NQ won by 8 points at ANZ Stadium
2013 – Round 13 – Bulldogs won by 10 points at 1300 SMILES Stadium

What we take from this?
By the Books it’s been an age for a Bulldogs victory, but what we can say is that J. Thurston played in each of those wins in History. From what we have seen this year minus his ability, NQ have looked lost. Two influential players are back, but first game back will be rusty.

Brief summary
For us the Bulldogs ($1.60) deserve the favourite tag for this match. They will miss J. Reynolds and his inspirational plays, however NQ will miss J. Thurston more. Coote and Granville will keep the score line respectable, however we don’t expect them to be at their best with extended breaks from “Game fitness”. Bulldogs will be too strong in the middle third and will take the two competition points.

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