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Battle of forwards key as Dogs and Roosters clash

POWERHOUSE PROP: James Graham of the Bulldogs was outstanding last week against the Broncos.
POWERHOUSE PROP: James Graham of the Bulldogs was outstanding last week against the Broncos. BRENDAN ESPOSITO

AFTER steamrolling Brisbane with its power game, Canterbury could put the nails in the Sydney Roosters’ 2016 coffin tonight.

Des Hasler’s pack, led by Englishman James Graham, who churned out more than 200m against Brisbane, will revel in the challenge of going up against the likes of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Dylan Napa and bench bruiser Sam Moa, who love the aggressive, physical game.

For the Roosters, time and wins are running out fast and a loss would virtually rule them out of the finals after taking out the minor premiership for the previous three years.

The impeding collision between Graham and Napa is one of the most mouth-watering match-ups of the weekend, given their past clashes and their brief history.

There is some chance Josh Morris, who has been out with a groin injury, could be a late inclusion for the Bulldogs after his twin brother, Brett, made a stunning comeback last weekend with a hat-trick of tries against the Broncos.

“He’s a 50-50 chance,” Hasler said when asked if Josh Morris had a shot at playing.

One of the game’s most under-rated players, Sam Perrett, celebrates his 250th NRL game.

Auckland-born Perrett, who played 148 of those games for the Roosters before moving to Belmore, is one of the safest wingers in the game and a quality finisher.

Hasler’s decision to drop big Tony Williams back to the NSW Cup to work on his game has paid dividends with the 120kg utility forward playing some damaging football.

“He had to get his priorities right but he is playing some great football,” Hasler said.

Williams ran some great lines against Brisbane and his size and power caused the Broncos’ defence major headaches.

Canterbury also welcome back Kiwi representative Greg Eastwood, who will add more off-loading to their forward firepower.

For the Roosters, they need their forwards to aim up and for young Napa to produce another dominant display like the one he pulled out against Sam Burgess and the Souths pack earlier this year, which drew rave reviews as one of the best efforts from a front-rower in years.

WAYNE HEMING

Topics:  canterbury-bankstown bulldogs des hasler nrl sydney roosters