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Canterbury Bulldogs vs Melbourne Storm NRL Preview and Team News - Can Bulldogs upset defending premiers in Perth?

Andrew Hendrie 7 Mar 2018
  • Canterbury Bulldogs face Melbourne Storm in Round 1 of the NRL on Saturday night in Perth
  • Bulldogs have won six of the last seven games between the sides
Bulldogs face Storm on Saturday

Melbourne Storm begin their NRL premiership defence against a rejuvenated Canterbury Bulldogs outfit at Optus Stadium in Perth during NRL Round 1 action on Saturday night.

One of the most intriguing games of the opening round awaits in Perth on Saturday night as Melbourne begin life without Cooper Cronk against a Canterbury side with a point to prove.

A lot of people are declaring Storm certainties in this encounter, but I’m not so confident myself. Cronk is a massive loss and Billy Slater is also sidelined with a shoulder injury. Add in the fact that Canterbury have won six of the last seven games between the sides - including a 40-12 triumph in Perth in 2014 - and I think this one has the makings of an upset.

Dean Pay has replaced Des Hasler at the helm and is attempting to bring the old ‘Dogs of War’ mentality back to Belmore. The Bulldogs have a new board in place, while it’s also been a highly emotional week for the proud ‘family club’ as one of their favourite sons - former premiership-winning player and coach Steve Folkes - suddenly passed away.

Canterbury will be determined to produce a big game in his honour, with high-profile recruits Kieran Foran and Aaron Woods making their debuts in place of former favourites Josh Reynolds and James Graham, while Moses Mbye has moved back to fullback as he searches for some consistency.

Cameron Munster slides into the No. 1 jersey to replace Slater for Melbourne, with Ryley Jacks and Brodie Croft making up an inexperienced halves pairing.

The Storm are starting as big favourites, but I can’t ignore the numbers. They haven’t scored more than 12 points in seven straight games against Canterbury, winning just one of those - and that came last year during the Bulldogs’ worst season in a long time. If Foran can inspire the Bulldogs in attack and include the likes of Mbye and Will Hopoate, then I think the blue and whites can come away with the upset.

Stats


  • Bulldogs have won six of the last seven games between the sides
  • Canterbury won 40-12 in their last clash in Perth
  • Bulldogs haven’t lost by double digits against the Storm away from Melbourne since 2007

Teams


Billy Slater is the big out for Melbourne after suffering a shoulder injury in pre-season. Cameron Munster starts at fullback, with Ryley Jacks and Brodie Croft in the halves. Former Bulldog Sam Kasiano has been named in the reserves.

Kieran Foran is partnered by Matt Frawley in the Bulldogs’ halves as Moses Mbye moves back to fullback and Will Hopoate goes to the centres. Aaron Woods debuts at prop, with Aiden Tolman dropping back to the bench.

Bulldogs team: 1.Moses Mbye, 2.Brett Morris, 3.Josh Morris, 4.Will Hopoate, 5.Marcelo Montoya, 6.Matt Frawley, 7.Kieran Foran, 8.Aaron Woods, 9.Michael Lichaa, 10.David Klemmer, 11.Josh Jackson, 12.Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 13.Danny Fualalo. Interchange: 14.Adam Elliott, 15.Aiden Tolman, 16.Greg Eastwood, 17.Jeremy Marshall-King. Extended bench: 19.Asipeli Fine, 20.Kerrod Holland, 21.Francis Tualau, 23.John Olive

Storm team: 1 Cameron Munster, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Ryley Jacks, 7 Brodie Croft, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14 Tim Glasby, 15 Kenny Bromwich, 16 Christian Welch, 17 Joe Stimson. Reserves: 18 Young Tonumaipea, 19 Tui Kamikamica, 20 Sam Kasiano, 21 Billy Walters

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Canterbury Bulldogs vs Melbourne Storm NRL Preview and Team News - Can Bulldogs upset defending premiers in Perth?

Melbourne Storm begin their NRL premiership defence against a rejuvenated Canterbury Bulldogs outfit at Optus Stadium in Perth during NRL Round 1 action on Saturday night.

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