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August 14, 2014 12:29:30 UK
Bulldogs captain Michael Ennis.
Aiden Tolman admits the Bulldogs need a much-improved performance against Parramatta on Friday to avoid tumbling out of the NRL top eight.
The Bulldogs were joint-first on the ladder just five weeks ago, but four consecutive defeats have left them in danger of missing out on the finals.
They face an in-form Eels team, led by the inspirational Jarryd Hayne, who will leapfrog them if they win their fourth game in a row at ANZ Stadium.
Parramatta, who are 1.91 to secure the win, have not made the finals since 2009, and Tolman says they will provide a stern test for his side in the wake of their 41-10 defeat to the Broncos. The Bulldogs are 1.72 with a +2 handicap.
Tolman moves to prop for the must-win clash, Greg Eastwood starts at lock and Reni Maitua joins the bench. Sam Kasiano will be out until the finals with a syndesmosis injury.
“We need to get the win,” Tolman said. “They have a big side with plenty of enthusiasm and any side with Jarryd Hayne in it is going to come out ready to play. Hayne is a type of player that can pull something from nothing.”
Hayne is the leading try-scorer in the NRL this year, having scored six in his past three games, and has the most line breaks in the competition, with 21.
Tolman added: “For me, it is about our completions and our possession of the ball. We don’t respect it enough. We seem to be dropping the ball especially when we’re coming out of trouble, and teams hurt you when they have enough ball and score points on you.
“From now on it is about being focused in the game and doing everything we can to do to wear teams out because that’s what they’re doing to us at the moment.”
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