They’ve taken down the NRL leaders and defending premiers in back-to-back weeks, but Canterbury’s Tim Lafai reckons Saturday’s clash with last-placed Newcastle is a danger game.
The Bulldogs centre insisted the team wouldn’t be letting their guard down against the struggling Knights and would extend their winning streak to a season-high four games, including the prized scalps of Brisbane and South Sydney.
But Lafai said he remained wary.
“It’s always these games where teams ease off, but I’m pretty sure Des (Hasler) will be saying that we’ve got to treat this team just like we did the top four teams,” Lafai said on Monday.
“Because it’s not far from the finals, we’ve got to treat them like they are a threat.”
A victory would also lock in a finals birth for the Bulldogs for the fourth straight year under the former Manly mentor.
Canterbury were impressive winners in Brisbane a fortnight ago, while their resounding victory over the Rabbitohs last week immediately lifted last year’s grand finalists back into premiership contention.
Lafai admitted the team had lifted its intensity over the past two weeks to prove they were worthy contenders for the title.
“It’s just come to a point towards the end of the season where it’s getting close and all the teams are desperate for that top eight spot,” he said.
“We’ve got to start playing good footy if we want to be there going into the finals. We’ve got to beat the big teams if we come to verse them.”
This time last year the Bulldogs had arrested a four-game slide with consecutive wins, and then faltered in the final two rounds before going on a surprising run to the decider.
However Lafai said it was important to keep their winning momentum going into the finals this year.
“It’s always nice going into the finals knowing you’ve strung a few wins together. It helps a lot confidence-wise,” he said.
Veteran prop Aidan Tolman is expected return from a hamstring injury while utility Josh Reynolds (knee) remains one week away.