By Guest Writer Stephen Gallagher
MATCH OF THE ROUND: FINALS ROUND ONE – Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs (1) V Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (4) – Friday, ANZ Stadium. 1945.00 local time, 21.45 NZ time.
LAST WEEK: The Bulldogs romped home to win the Minor Premiership 42-10 over the Sydney Roosters.
Manly-Warringah were too good away from home as they sealed fourth spot with a 24-16 win over the Gold Coast Titans.
THIS WEEK: The Minor Premiers will take on the current Premiers, for the third time this season. The Bulldogs winning the last clash these two played in at Brookvale. This is going to be such an amazing game. Friday night footy is heating up now the finals are here. The Bulldogs will be peaking now, with everything they’ve worked hard for this season now in front of them. A win here sees them with a week off next week. They have deservedly been the best side all season but they do need more than reputation now.
The Sea Eagles are really starting to hit their straps too. They do look good enough to make the Grand Final. This is going to be the toughest challenge they will face before it if they are strong enough. They are shaping up to be one of the sides tipped for the final too. A current, healthy roster will help their cause tenfold. They have the troops to do it.
WHAT TO EXPECT: They have a recipe for success that is seemingly unbeatable. They’ll be going about their work well. Canterbury are a team that functions quickly, and the speed of the ball around the ruck is deadly. Now the finals have started they will get better too. A gap free defence and quick off the line has contributed to their success, this workload will be the backbone of this team’s victory if they manage to win.
Manly are a side that can produce the goods when they need to. This is one of those times. A side that goes under the radar with success. Their halves are young but experienced and the leadership group is one of the best going around. They will push the Bulldogs right to the 80th minute. Manly hate losing as much as any other team.
FINALS X-FACTORS: Daly M Player Of The Year Ben Barba. He is one full reason why they have been so great this year. Can dictate the outcome of a match with a simple acceleration of speed. If he gets his hands on the ball with open space, it could be all over for the opposition.
Glenn Stewart is one of those forwards that is actually a halfback on the inside. He has such a silky touch with ball in hand it’s actually quite bizarre. It’s so effective that he is one of the best going around the traps at the moment.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Krisnan Inu – He just brings a relaxed sense of style which relishes good fortune. He has been great since joining the club mid-season.
Daly Cherry-Evans – In his second finals series in his second year of playing. Not bad is it? He has a cool head on big shoulders.
They haven’t been the best side all season, and earned all the success for nothing. Bulldogs to win in a thrilling 22-18 score line.
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