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Match Preview: Round 1 v Bulldogs

Last Time They Met: Round 21, 2017 The GIANTS triumphed over the Bulldogs in round 21, 2017 by 48 points at Etihad Stadium.

SUMMARY
The Dogs' defensive pressure all over the ground dropped away badly last season and it will be interesting to see how they start 2018 against one of the premiership favourites. The GIANTS play their home ground well and have an outstanding record in Canberra, where the season opener is more than likely going to be another sell-out. The loss of Dale Morris (knee) and Marcus Adams (ankle) leaves the Dogs short in defence, which means Jeremy Cameron and Jonathon Patton could be even more dangerous than usual, especially if the GIANTS' midfield is allowed to roam free. Marcus Bontempelli is the key for the Dogs as usual, and if he can have an impact inside 50 to get them going early, this should be another entertaining clash between these two sides.

WHERE AND WHEN: UNSW Canberra Oval, Sunday, March 25, 1.10pm AEST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide

LAST FIVE MEETINGS
R21, 2017, GIANTS 16.9 (105) d Western Bulldogs 7.15 (57) at Etihad Stadium
R6, 2017, GIANTS 11.9 (75) d Western Bulldogs 9.19 (73) at UNSW Canberra Oval
1PF, 2016, Western Bulldogs 13.11 (89) d GIANTS 12.11 (83) at Spotless Stadium
R9, 2016, GIANTS 15.8 (98) d Western Bulldogs 10.13 (73) at Spotless Stadium
R9, 2015, Western Bulldogs 16.17 (113) d GIANTS 11.2 (68) at Etihad Stadium

THE SIX POINTS
1. The GIANTS defeated the Bulldogs twice in 2017, winning a thriller in round six before recording a comfortable victory in round 21. Jonathon Patton was the difference between the sides, kicking three goals in the first win and four in the second.

2. GIANTS and the Bulldogs clash for the 10th time and the visitors hold a narrow advantage, having won five games to four; the Giants have won three of the last four.

3. The Western Bulldogs were one of the best tackling sides in 2017, ranked fourth with an average of 70 per game thanks to Marcus Bontempelli and Jack Macrae, who led the way with 138 and 127 respectively.

4. The GIANTS have been difficult to defeat at UNSW Canberra Oval recently, winning their last six matches since late in 2015. The Bulldogs know the ACT well, playing 10 times at the venue for seven wins.

5. Defensively the Bulldogs struggled in 2017 compared to their 2016 premiership season. In 2016 they conceded just 72 points per game, which blew out to 86 in 2017.

6. After starting last season ranked fourth in the Schick AFL Player Ratings, star Bulldog Marcus Bontempelli has fallen outside the top 10, and begins 2018 ranked 11th.

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR …
With gun veteran Morris (knee) and the luckless Adams (ankle) out long term, Zaine Cordy must play out of his skin as a key defender, with a likely match up on star Giant Jeremy Cameron. Captain Easton Wood's move forward will be put on hold to give the backline some strength.