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Coaching The Coaches - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Fri, 03 Aug 2007 00:56:00 GMT
Round 21 kicks off on Friday night with a highly anticipated fixture between Parramatta and Canterbury – two of the league's greatest rivals.

Coaches Michael Hagan (Parramatta) and Steve Folkes (Bulldogs) are linked, having played together in the 1985 grand final win over St George.

Folkes in the second row and Hagan at five-eighth for the injured Terry Lamb.

The Bulldogs have a tradition of former players becoming coaches. They are very much a ``teaching club.” They tutor the footballer and the person.

The Eels also have a list of successful people having played and either moved into coaching, administration or business.

Denis Fitzgerald played for the Eels and has been CEO since 1979.

This game will be the equal to the Manly and Brisbane blockbuster on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium.

Don't expect flair, panache and width of the field passing between the Eels and Dogs inside the opening twenty minutes.

Canterbury:

In attack, the Bulldogs are best when they ``play direct or straight.''

They play directly at spaces into the line or for the ''collision'' factor, they attack the defensive line with arrow-straight running.

After finding holes Sonny Bill Williams and Reni Maitua who play on the right side of the field together aim for space and slip neat passes to supports such as right centre Daryl Millard and fullback Luke Patten.

Captain Andrew Ryan raids down the left side of the field and pairs with left centre Willie Tonga in attack.

Brent Sherwin loves to run the ball on the final tackle inside the quarter where he will either dummy, chip kick or cross kick for Hazem El Masri and Patten. Either that or he’ll swing the ball to where the defence is short.

In defence, the Bulldogs love to ``belt'' the opposition.

They gang tackle so to slow down the opposition play-the-ball, reform and advance and hit again, and again.

Parramatta:

The Eels boast a well balanced team full of speed and skill in the forwards, solid halves and pace out wide.

I believe they do have the grit to grind out a game, but they missed a few chances to nail Manly last week. However they will learn with the finals coming around.

The Eels have the right mix between ``structured plays'' and add-lib footy.

I like their switches and different types of kicks in attack. This is where halfback Tim Smith and five-eighth Brett Finch have worked out better than I thought this year.

Feleti Mateo, Krisnan Inu and Tamana Tahu and Eric Grothe are also up in top form.

Watch Inu blossom as a centre when Tahu heads to rugby union next year.

Ben Smith has been one of the form centres this year. His right-side-of-the-field combination with Eric Grothe has been dynamic in attack and defence in season 2007.

Verdict:

The Eels have never beaten the Bulldogs at Telstra Stadium in all 5 games they’ve played. But as Manly have shown in the last two weeks, 2007 is the year for hoodoos to be broken.

Yet I still believe the Dogs will prevail by seven points when the smoke is cleared and the war is settled.

Head To Head: Played 119, Bulldogs 65, Eels 49, drawn 5
At Telstra Stadium: Played 5, Bulldogs 5, Eels 0
Biggest Head To Head Wins: Bulldogs 42 d Eels 6 at Belmore, 1993. Eels 56 d Bulldogs 4 at Parramatta Stadium, 2005. - Read More, Here