Warriors v Bulldogs preview - 2017 Round 16

Warriors v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Friday 6:00pm at Mt Smart Stadium

6 wins, 8 losses. Nothing separates these two after fourteen matches. Who can turn their season around?

Thankfully, both sides will be fairly fresh heading into this contest, with both sides enjoying the bye in Round 15 and only three players (Brett Morris, David Klemmer & Josh Jackson) backing up from Wednesday's Origin opener.

With players fresh, there's no reason for this one to fizzle out, but the form of both the Warriors and Bulldogs this season has been patchy, so don't be surprised if it does become a dire affair. The clash between the two in Dunedin earlier this season wasn't what you'd call an exciting contest by any means.

There are a few changes for the Warriors with Solomone Kata sadly unable to play following a loss in the family. Nicoll-Klokstad returns to the backline, while on the bench Nathaniel Roache is in. At the time of writing this preview, there was still significant doubt over Canterbury-bound Warriors five-eighth Kieran Foran, struggling with a quad injury sustained a fortnight ago. If he's out you can expect Ata Hingano to join the side in the halves.

Canterbury are much luckier - no injury omissions from their last start win over the Dragons on Queen's Birthday, and will be boosted by the delayed return of outgoing five-eighth Josh Reynolds. Matt Frawley drops to the interchange as a result.

Last meeting: Round 3 2017 - Bulldogs 24 Warriors 12

The Bulldogs took their home fixture to Dunedin at the start of the season, a gamble that paid off when they recorded their first win of the season over a listless Warriors outfit.

From 35 meetings since the Warriors entered the premiership in 1995, Canterbury have won 20 to the Warriors' 13, with two matches drawn, and there are only 10 points differential between the sides over that time. The Bulldogs also hold a slight edge at Mt Smart, winning 8 of 15 at the venue since 1996.

Who to watch: Provided Foran takes the park, the battle of the five-eighths will be of significant interest. Both are leaving their clubs at season's end - Reynolds is off to the Wests Tigers, while Foran will don the blue and white himself come 2018. Foran's arrival is keenly awaited by many Canterbury fans and there will be plenty watching his performance on Friday night with high hopes - albeit not too high in the immediate term. 

Reynolds in the meanwhile is returning from a hamstring injury which took him out in Round 9 and has seen him miss nearly two months of footy. Seen by many as the heart-and-soul of the Bulldogs' outfit, he was a near-starter against the Dragons before failing a fitness test in the lead-up to the game. This week he'll be raring to go, hoping to help the Bulldogs out of a hole that saw them lose four of five while he was sidelined.

The favourite: Home ground advantage has the Warriors better backed, but there is plenty of love for the Bulldogs at the longer odds.

My tip: The big concern for these two sides is that they were just starting to look good before the bye hit. Canterbury managed to do away with premiership big-guns St George Illawarra just a week after being thumped by Penrith, while the Warriors dominated the Titans. The Bulldogs' defence is good but the Warriors' attack, should it click, will just about put the Bulldogs' finals aspirations to bed. Warriors by 6.

1. Roger Tuivasa-sheck 2. Charnze Nicoll-klokstad 3. Blake Ayshford 4. David Fusitua 5. Ken Maumalo 22. Mafoa'aeata Hingano 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Issac Luke 10. Ben Matulino 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Simon Mannering 14. Nathaniel Roache 15. Sam Lisone 16. Albert Vete 18. James Gavet

1. William Hopoate 20. Kerrod Holland 3. Josh Morris 4. Chase Stanley 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Moses Mbye 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Adam Elliot 15. Danny Fualalo 14. Sam Kasiano 13. David Klemmer 16. Greg Eastwood 22. Raymond Faitala-Mariner

Referees: Ashley Klein, Peter Gough; Sideline Officials: Belinda Sleeman, Chris McMillan; Video Referees: Luke Patten, Steve Chiddy;

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