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Bulldogs clash a danger NRL game: Bennett

Tevita Pangai Jnr has overcome injury concerns in time for Brisbane’s NRL clash against Canterbury.On paper, Wayne Bennett doesn’t seem to have much to worry about.
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Brisbane have won seven of their past nine NRL games to remain on track for a top-four finish.

And injury concerns, boom youngsters Tevita Pangai (hamstring/ankle) and Kotoni Staggs (knee), have been cleared to play Thursday night’s clash with lowly Canterbury.

But the Broncos coach admits he is concerned about taking on the 13th-placed Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium, describing it as a “danger game”.

Bennett says his seventh-placed side have battled all season against opponents outside the top eight and believes it’s time to end the worrying trend.

“We have got to beat teams that we can beat,” he said.

“That’s our next step and we have a golden opportunity tomorrow night.”

The Bulldogs only registered their fifth win of the year last round, a 16-4 upset over Wests Tigers, but gave Brisbane a scare last time they met – the Broncos’ 22-20 round-nine victory at Suncorp Stadium.

Still, their chances of going back to back for the first time in 2018 have been hampered by the suspension of NSW enforcer Dave Klemmer.

Danny Fualalo starts instead at prop and mid-season recruit Chris Smith makes his club debut off the bench.

“It’s a huge loss; you don’t replace players like him,” Bulldogs coach Dean Pay said of Klemmer.

“He’s the form front-rower in the competition in my opinion but Chris Smith gets his opportunity.

“Our young guys are having a red-hot crack; we just need to get some consistency in what we are doing.”

The Bulldogs have won five of their past seven against Brisbane at ANZ Stadium but another loss will keep them at five wins, their fewest after 20 rounds since their 2008 wooden spoon year.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Brisbane have won seven of their past 10 against Canterbury

* They make the fewest errors (9.3) per game and have the NRL’s second-best completion rate (78.6 per cent)

* Canterbury have scored the fewest points in the final 20 minutes of games, a total of 56 (2.9 per game) for 2018.

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