Western Suburbs Magpies will be looking to build on their strong start to the season when they take on the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in Round 3 of the Canterbury Cup competition.
After a 48-10 thrashing against New Zealand Warriors last Sunday at Campbelltown, Wests find themselves on top of the ladder with two solid wins, while also boasting the best attacking (35.5 points per game) and defensive (7 points per game) record.
Coach Brett Hodgson has named a similar team for Sunday's game to the one that got the job done last week with NRL squad members Dylan Smith, Tyson Gamble, Oliver Clark, Sam McIntyre and Robbie Rochow all included in the squad.
It's worth noting too that NRL Head Coach Michael Maguire has named four reserves for his side's clash against the Bulldogs — all of which have not been included in the Canterbury Cup team so far. Potentially, Josh Reynolds, Paul Momirovski, Chris McQueen and Matt Eisenhuth could all return to the Magpies' lineup on Sunday, although it's more likely that only two of those will drop back.
Last week, Reynolds was a late addition to the side and starred for the Magpies with two tries and a hand in four others. Along with Eisenhuth (176 metres and 19 tackles), he was named in the Canterbury Cup Team of the Week for Round 2 and will have no doubt taken plenty of confidence from his official return from injury.
On the other side of the ball, Canterbury-Bankstown come in to the clash in seventh position after a thrilling 24-22 defeat to Wentworthville last week. The Bulldogs had trailed the Magpies late on before a try to Jayden Okunbor had given the hosts a chance to snatch a draw, only for Rhyse Martin to miss the ensuring conversion.
However, Okunbor and Martin (who scored two tries and kicked three goals last week) are just two of several faces who won't be present for the Canterbury Cup Bulldogs this week after NRL Head Coach Dean Pay drastically changed up his first-grade side following another heavy defeat to the Parramatta Eels in Round 2.
That pair, along with fullback Nick Meaney and Ofahiki Ogden, have been called up to the NRL squad while Christian Chrichton, Marcelo Montoya, Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Sauaso Sue (who played at times for the Magpies in 2018) drop back.
Fa'amanu Brown has also been named at hooker as he plays his first game of the year — adding further dynamism and talent to the Bulldogs side on the day.
2019 Match Highlights: Canterbury Cup Round 2
With a new-look opposition on the cards this week, Sunday's game is shaping as arguably the game of the round in the Canterbury Cup competition as the Magpies look to make it three wins in a row — something they couldn't do at all in 2018.
The two sides split the matchup one game apiece last year before the Bulldogs went on to clinch the reserve grade premiership, but what will happen this time around?
Date — Sunday, March 31, 2019
Time — 1:50pm AEST
Venue — Campbelltown Sports Stadium
Fullback for Magpies is number 1 Dylan SmithFullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Toa Mata'afa
Winger for Magpies is number 3 Watson HeletaWinger for Bulldogs is number 2 Tuipulotu Katoa
Centre for Magpies is number 6 Tyson GambleCentre for Bulldogs is number 3 Morgan Harper
Centre for Magpies is number 4 Kane McQuigginCentre for Bulldogs is number 4 Marcelo Montoya
Winger for Magpies is number 5 Bilal MaarbaniWinger for Bulldogs is number 5 Christian Crichton
Five-Eighth for Magpies is number 19 Josh ReynoldsFive-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Jesse Marschke
Halfback for Magpies is number 7 Kauri Aupouri-PuketapuHalfback for Bulldogs is number 7 Jack Cogger
Prop for Magpies is number 8 Oliver ClarkProp for Bulldogs is number 8 Francis Tualau
Hooker for Magpies is number 9 Braden RobsonHooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Fa'amanu Brown
Prop for Magpies is number 21 Matthew EisenhuthProp for Bulldogs is number 10 Danny Fualalo
2nd Row for Magpies is number 11 Sam McIntyre2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Bronson Garlick
2nd Row for Magpies is number 15 Chris McQueen2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner
Lock for Magpies is number 13 Robbie RochowLock for Bulldogs is number 13 Sauaso Sue
Interchange for Magpies is number 14 Patrice SioloInterchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Jack Nelson
Interchange for Magpies is number 16 Joseph RatuvakacereivaluInterchange for Bulldogs is number 15 James Roumanos
Interchange for Magpies is number 23 Soni LukeInterchange for Bulldogs is number 16 Jesse Martin
Interchange for Magpies is number 12 Dylan CliffordInterchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Austin Dias