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The Dragons are in control of their own destiny in terms of finishing in the top four – simply win against the Bulldogs and Knights – two teams that have been out of the finals race for months – and it’s theirs.
However, we all know the Dragons struggle towards the tail-end of the regular season – and it was actually this fixture in Round 26 last season that cost Paul McGregor’s side a spot in the finals.
Canterbury, who were playing terrible football at the time, beat the Dragons 26-20 to win their sixth straight match against the Red V – and the Bulldogs will be confident of registering another win over their rivals on Sunday.
It’s been another poor season for the Bulldogs, but they’ve been pretty solid over the last month or so – and that’s mostly due to Lachlan Lewis coming into the side at halfback and providing a calming influence and creative outlet that the side desperately craved.
Still battling to avoid the wooden spoon due to the Eels and Cowboys also peaking towards the end of the season, this remains a big clash for the Dogs and they will be well up for this one.
The Dragons snapped a three-match losing run to beat the Tigers 20-10 last week, and while that was a superb win given the circumstances, I’m still not convinced they are back in top four.
This promises to be a tight encounter, but there’s great value in backing the Bulldogs. They’ve won 11 of their last 13 encounters and know how to bring the Dragons down to their level.
Jason Nightingale starts on the wing with Jordan Pereira named on the bench and Jai Field dropping out for the Dragons.
The Bulldogs have named an unchanged side from their team that beat the Warriors last week.
Dragons: 1. Matthew Dufty 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Euan Aitken 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Kurt Mann 7. Ben Hunt 8. James Graham 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Leeson Ah Mau 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. Jack de Belin
Interchange: 14. Jeremy Latimore 15. Jordan Pereira 16. Blake Lawrie 17. Luciano Leilua
Reserves: 18. Zac Lomax 19. Jai Field 20. Paul Vaughan 21. Jacob Host
Bulldogs: 1. Will Hopoate 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Kerrod Holland 5. Reimis Smith 6. Lachlan Lewis 7. Matt Frawley 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. David Klemmer 11. Josh Jackson 12. Rhyse Martin 13. Adam Elliott
Interchange: 14. Jeremy Marshall-King 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Ofahiki Ogden 17. Greg Eastwood
Reserves: 18. John Olive 19. Francis Tualau 20. Renouf To’omaga 21. Fa’amanu Brown