4.00pm (AEST), Sunday, April 12
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
St George Illawarra have pieced together an against-the-odds three-match winning streak, which they aim to keep building against a Canterbury side beset by injuries and suspensions in the wake of their explosive Good Friday loss.
Front-row trio James Graham, David Klemmer and Sam Kasiano are all missing through suspension, which sees Tim Browne, Lloyd Perrett and Antonio Kaufusi come into the Bulldogs’ 17. Brett Morris’ hamstring injury means Sam Perrett reverts to fullback and Corey Thompson comes onto the wing. Tim Lafai is also sidelined and Moses Mbye has been named at centre with Josh Reynolds returning to five-eighth, while Chase Stanley has been included on the bench but could swap with Mbye in the eventual starting line-up. Aiden Tolman will captain the Dogs. The Dragons head into the match with an unchanged side.
Canterbury hold a significant edge with a 17-10 record against St George Illawarra since the joint venture’s 1999 debut, including a 7-5 advantage at ANZ Stadium. The Bulldogs are on a five-match winning streak against the Dragons dating back to 2012, which was preceded by a six-match run in the Saints’ favour. The blue-and-whites prevailed 38-6 in the teams’ last meeting, at ANZ Stadium in Round 9 last season. Brett Morris’ injury robs him on the chance to take on his old club for the first time, but Josh Morris and Chase Stanley are former Dragons.
The Saints boast the extraordinary stats of being the NRL’s best defensive side and worst attacking outfit after five rounds. Following a disastrous start to the season that just about had fans rioting, the Dragons staged a miraculous comeback victory over Canberra and hard-fought, low-scoring successes over Manly (12-4) and previously unbeaten Newcastle (13-0). The Bulldogs’ three-match winning run – culminating in a heart-stopping golden point defeat of the Tigers in Round 4 – was halted by South Sydney in a controversial Grand Final replay. Despite dominating possession and leading for the bulk of the contest, the Bulldogs were sunk by a penalty goal in the dying stages, with the fallout from said penalty resulting in suspensions for Graham and Klemmer.
With the Bulldogs’ three most explosive and dynamic forwards on the suspension list, burly ball-playing lock Greg Eastwood needs to ramp up his output with the ball in hand. The 174-game veteran comes up against a No.13 with similar game-breaking attributes in NSW star Trent Merrin, who has been pivotal to the Dragons’ resurgence.
Stats That Matter
The Dragons are 3-4 at ANZ Stadium since the beginning of 2013 (4-3 against the start), while the Bulldogs are 17-14 (16-15 ATS) at the venue during the same period. The Bulldogs have an 8-9 record overall and against the start in day games over the last three seasons, while the Dragons are an equally unimpressive 9-10 (10-9 ATS) during the timeslot. The Bulldogs are 12-13 coming off a solitary loss since 2013. The Dragons are 0-3 when attempting to extend a three-game winning streak. The Dragons have a 4-1 under record in 2015.
The disruptions to the Bulldogs’ line-up are impossible to ignore, but they have covered those losses with squad depth and versatility most clubs could only dream about. Meanwhile, the Dragons have discovered self-belief and a defensive steel not seen since the Bennett years, conceding just one try in their last five halves of football. The Saints’ continuity and confidence gives them the edge here, with the Bulldogs to struggle for combinations and scoring strike without Morris and Lafai. The under has to be favoured given the Bulldogs’ absentees and the Dragons’ failure to score more than 22 points this season.
How It’s Shaping Up
Dragons by 7
Under 38.5 ($1.90)
Other Recommended Bets
Dragons -2 ($2.10)
2015 NRL Round 6 Betting Preview for St George-Illawarra vs Bulldogs thanks to William Hill Australia.
St George-Illawarra vs Bulldogs Comparison Betting Odds
Below we have 2015 NRL Round 6 comparison betting odds from leading Australian and International online sportsbooks for the game.