Bulldogs’ NRL top four hopes on the line

It’s the alarming chink that’s emerged in Canterbury’s broad suit of armour and they admit it could end their NRL top four hopes unless they find a swift response.

The Bulldogs have boasted one of the best completion rates for most of the season only to find their fundamentals lacking over the last five weeks.

Having completed at over 78 per cent all year, the Bulldogs have only trailed Melbourne and Gold Coast for holding onto the ball.

But their drop off started with their round 20 36-0 flogging at the hands of North Queensland, during which they were punished for simple errors.

Since that night, they’ve completed above their season average just once – against Manly with 81.3 per cent. And after Friday’s loss to Brisbane they were left to lament their 65.9 completion rate.

“It’s been a continuing theme over the last month or six weeks,” prop Aidan Tolman said.

“We’ve got a big game this weekend and we need to get it right because we did the same up there in North Queensland and that’s where it all started and we got dusted.

“It’s one thing we definitely need to clean up if we’re any chance of winning on Thursday night.”

Tolman admitted the side faced feeling the wrath of an expected bumper crowd at Belmore Sportsground if they produced a repeat limp performance against the Cowboys on Thursday night.

He warned fans at the Dogs’ spiritual home were unforgiving and would make their feelings known if their team were to turn belly up similar to their effort against the premiers five weeks ago.

The carrot for Thursday’s clutch clash is fourth spot, with the fifth-placed Cowboys nipping at the Bulldogs’ heels just two competition points back.

“We know that’s there but more importantly we need to put in a good performance,” Tolman said.

“If we do that, we gives ourselves the best chance of coming away with a top four finish.

“For us it’s about trying to getting back to play some good footy. We’ve won a few games over the last month but they’ve been scrappy wins.”

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