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New Zealand Warriors v Canterbury Bulldogs
Friday, June 23, 6pm (AEST), Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

The 11th placed Warriors host the 12th placed Bulldogs in what is shaping up as a must-win match, with both sides sitting a win outside the Top 8. The Warriors will be sweating on the fitness of five-eighth Kieran Foran, while the Bulldogs will have Origin trio, Brett Morris, Josh Jackson and David Klemmer backing up from Wednesday night. The Bulldogs should also welcome back Josh Reynolds from injury as Des Hasler’s men look to kickstart their season.

The Bulldogs have won 6 of the last 7 matches against the Warriors including a 24-12 Round 3 win this year. NSW winger Brett Morris crossed for a double in the 12-point win in Otago.

New Zealand have a 6-8 record and sit outside the Top 8 after 15 rounds. They rank 10th in attack and 11th in defence and have been disappointing throughout the season. The Warriors have won just 3 of their last 8 games but enter this off a 34-12 drubbing of the Titans on the Gold Coast. The Warriors are 5-2 at Mt Smart this year. Canterbury also have a 6-8 record and actually have the sixth best defence in the premiership but have been let down by an insipid attack that ranks last averaging just 13.9 points per match. Canterbury had dropped four straight before a 16-2 upset win over St George Illawarra.

Key Matchup
Shaun Johnson v Moses Mbye. Johnson had a hand in three of the Warriors’ six tries in the big win over the Titans last week and could have full control of the attack against the Bulldogs if Foran can’t take his place in the side. It’s a huge game for the Warriors and Johnson needs to shine. Mbye has been extremely disappointing this year, especially his kicking game, and needs to rediscover his best, with Josh Reynolds likely to return and Matt Frawley ready to pounce on the bench. Another poor performance by Mbye and Des Hasler’s patience will surely be tested.

Stats That Matter

– New Zealand are 5-9 ATS with a 7-7 total record while Canterbury are 8-6 ATS with an 11-3 under record.
– Canterbury have won 6 of the last 7 matches against the Warriors including a 24-12 Round 3 win this year.
– The last four at Mt Smart have been split evenly but the teams have not played there since 2012.
– The Warriors have covered just 4 of their last 14 at Mt Smart and just 4 of their last 17 as a favourite at the ground.
– New Zealand have failed to cover their last six as a favourite of 4 or more at Mt Smart.
– The Warriors have failed to cover nine straight night games at Mt Smart.
– The Bulldogs are 28-14 under away from ANZ since 2014.
– The under is a perfect 9-0 when Canterbury are away from ANZ after conceding single digits.
– The Warriors have covered just 4 of their last 12.

Final Thoughts
The Wolf isn’t reading too much into the Warriors win over the Titans in Round 14 after witnessing the Titans capitulate against the Rabbitohs last week. It’s hardly the strongest form line! The Bulldogs haven’t been setting the world on fire, but do seem to have the wood on the Warriors. They’ve won 6 of the last 7 matches, including a win in Otago earlier in the season and the 5.5 start looks generous here.

How It’s Shaping Up
Canterbury by 4

Best Bet
Canterbury +5.5 ($1.90)

Other Recommended Bets
Under 37.5 ($1.88)

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