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globalrugbyleague - Sat, 15 Sep 2007 11:59:00 GMT
What mouth-watering contests we are privileged to be watching this weekend.

On Saturday night, two tribes go to war when Parramatta battles arch-rivals Canterbury for the right to meet Melbourne the following week.

Then on Sunday we have the Cowboys and the Warriors - in barmy North Queensland – looking to win a football arm wrestle so they can play Manly in week 3.

You could say the winners of these two contests are not really being rewarded but I’ll leave that for next week.

BULLDOGS V EELS
Saturday, 15th September 2007
Telstra Stadium, 7:45pm
Referee: Shayne Hayne

I expect Saturday's game to be battle of mental and physical attrition.

If the Dogs can't produce the ``thunder and lightning'' then I am prepared to say while still a finals-standard team, some rebuilding and re-thinking will need to occur for 2008 and the following few seasons after that.

Two former Bulldogs players face another.

The intense, yet unassuming Steve Folkes versus the articulate, astute and very centred Michael Hagan.

I believe the Bulldogs win at Telstra through forward-like discipline and the ability to build pressure in this elimination game.

Parramatta to me can cause problems for the Storm next week if they can get through. But I feel this game is their biggest hurdle.

Tactically the Dogs will target Tim Smith and Brett Finch with big forwards aiming at them down the edges.

Conversely, the Eels will not only target the smaller Bulldogs wingers, Hazem El Masri and Matt Utai (they lack the height of the Eels' outside backs) but also work away at the play the ball.

PJ Marsh loves to scoot from dummy-half and tire out big forwards who struggle laterally in defence.

When Marsh is doing this around the rucks, Mark Riddell, who starts the game at hooker - is used as an extra running forward.

When at the Dragons and in his first year with the Eels - Riddell was used as a running forward, this tactic worked.

Verdict:

Bulldogs to win through Sonny Bill Williams' power, off-loading skills and sheer class.

COWBOYS V WARRIORS
Saturday, 16th September 2007
Dairy Farmers Stadium, 4:00pm
Referee: Tony Archer

I really feel the Cowboys are specials against the Warriors.

Forget the heat factor.

That might play a part but the team with the best mental will is the outfit which will advance to play Manly next week.

I like the form and skill of Jonathan Thurston, Matt Bowen, Aaron Payne and the speed of Ashley Graham.

Jason Smith off the bench is like having a Ferrari parked in the garage and it enters the racetrack and overlaps the rivals cars.

To me the Warriors had their chances against the Eels and I feel they have peaked this year.

Their halves Grant Rovelli and Michael Witt have been in great form - but Thurston and Bowen are above these two.

Verdict:

Cowboys by a dozen. - Read More, Here