Soft build-up not a worry for Bulldogs - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Soft build-up not a worry for Bulldogs

By Steve Jancetic 21/09/2009 07:56:57 PM Comments (0)

Bulldogs coach Kevin Moore has dismissed concerns his men will go into Friday's NRL preliminary final underdone thanks to a soft run-in.

Over the past two months the Bulldogs have played only one side which finished in the top eight; a qualifying final win ten days ago over a Newcastle outfit severely depleted by injuries and suspension.

Their previous top-eight clash was back in July when they took on Parramatta - the side they will go up against at ANZ Stadium on Friday night for the right to play either Brisbane or Melbourne in the grand final.

That round 20 match ended in a 27-8 win to the Eels, with the Bulldogs having managed only two wins over finals-bound opposition since beating Brisbane in round 14 at Suncorp Stadium.

But Moore said they were ready for the intensity of finals football, the week off after the qualifying final win over the Knights the perfect tonic for a side which had byes early in the year.

There was also the bonus of allowing halfback Brett Kimmorley's fractured cheekbone an extra seven days to mend.

"One thing that probably escaped a lot of people is that our byes were in round nine and 13," Moore said.

"When you play 13 weeks of constant footy, and a number of blokes played Origin as well, from our point of view and given the fact Noddy was injured, I think it was a really good blessing for us that we got the weekend off."

Prop Michael Hodgson said the players weren't even aware their run home was bereft of finals contenders.

"The way Kevie does things, we just take every game as another challenge and we focus on ourselves," Hodgson said.

"We can only play who we have to play - we don't do the draw at the start of the year.

"We've got enough big-game players who have been there before, we know what to expect."

While the extra week off was no doubt an advantage for Kimmorley, the veteran playmaker said the extended preparation for the derby would aid the entire Bulldogs squad.

The build-up is in stark contrast to the Eels, who have been playing sudden-death football for nine of the past ten weeks.

"It certainly helps in the way we can do a bit of planning in who we're playing," Kimmorley said.

"Parramatta, on the back of playing two hard games, have got a pretty short turnaround to get ready.

"I feel like the way we've done it has been pretty good, we had a few blokes with little niggles and that really helped them.

"If you can't get up and excited after a weekend off for a grand final qualifier then you're not overly excited about playing football."

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