If Canterbury are to pull off a huge upset and roll the Melbourne Storm away from home on Sunday, the NRL’s newest halves pairing will have to take it up to perhaps the competition’s best.
The Bulldogs will persist with Brandon Wakeham joining Matt Burton after they took it up to Manly in a 13-12 defeat last weekend.
But matching it against Cameron Munster and Jahrome Hughes is a whole new challenge.
Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett said game management had been an issue for his emerging side in the close loss to the Sea Eagles, where Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans struck a 76th minute game-winning field goal.
“We haven’t been in too many of those games the last few years so we’re going to find ourselves in more of them,” he said.
“It’s important we learn from it, we know our halves are young, the more times they get put in those situations they’re gonna have a clearer idea of what’s needed.
“‘Wakey’ was good, he started the game really well and had a hand in a couple of our tries.
“(Burton) is a dozen games into his career at six … the more situations ‘Burto’ is put in the better he’s going to be.”
For the Storm (2-1), who’ve headed to golden point in consecutive weeks, coach Craig Bellamy challenged his team to bring intensity for 80 minutes for the first time this season.
“The fans like going to extra time, I’m not sure the two teams do … to go two weeks in a row was fairly different,” he told reporters.
“We had opportunities last week to just about ice the game … we were in good positions to get in better positions.
“We’ve got things to work on … when we get into a bit of rhythm we were looking OK, but we just can’t seem to sustain that rhythm with the ball.”
And Bellamy warned his side anything less than maximum effort could see them come unstuck against the new-look Bulldogs, who have been nothing if not competitive despite their 1-2 record.
The contest also brings former Storm superstar winger Josh Addo-Carr back to town for the first time since his off-season transition to Canterbury.
“Certainly there’s a lot of new players there, they recruited heavily in the off-season and I think you’re seeing results of that to be quite honest,” Bellamy said.
“They’ve only won the one but they’ve been very unlucky last week against Manly, and got beaten by one point.
“Their defence is really what’s improved on what they were doing last year and some of the guys who have come into their side have made a real difference.”