Perhaps Canterbury are not the attacking flops they are made out to be.
As September specialist – Bulldogs coach Des Hasler – readies his side for a finals ambush ahead of his team’s NRL elimination final with Penrith, captain James Graham has argued Canterbury do have some offensive bite.
And he is right.
The Dogs attack, in particular halves Josh Reynolds and Moses Mbye have copped plenty of criticism in recent weeks as the club slipped out of contention for a top four spot.
But Fox Sports Stats reveal some of that criticism is off the mark.
Both Reynolds and Mbye boast greater key attacking stats than their opposites at Allianz Stadium on Sunday in Bryce Cartwright and Nathan Cleary
Mbye leads the way with 19 try assists this season, Reynolds has 14 while Cartwright has 11 and Cleary eight.
“We have our style, we play how we play and we back ourselves,” Graham said.
“It is not easy to attack on the tryline, it is very, very difficult.”
In terms of taking their opportunities when in tryscoring positions, the Dogs are not worse than clubs seen as more having far more creativity in attack such, as North Queensland, Cronulla.
And they are better than Penrith.
Canterbury’s conversion rate from tackles in their opponent’s 20m red zone is 63 tries from 668 tackles at a ratio of 10.6. The Cowboys have scored 74 tries from 768 red zone tackles at 10.4 and the Sharks 66 tries from 694 tackles at 10.5
Penrith have 68 tries from 761 red zone tackles at a ratio of 11.2.
The Dogs problem isn’t so much as scoring from the red zone as getting there.
Hasler has coached sides at Manly and the Dogs to 12 successive finals appearances including the 2008 and 2011 premierships with the Sea Eagles and grand finals with Canterbury in 2012 and 2014.
Graham, who has played in seven deciders in the NRL and UK Super League, said the Dogs will embrace their finals experience despite missing out on a top four finish.
“We are in with a shout whether we attack brilliant, great or indifferent,” Graham said.
“We are playing in September and we are really going to attack the finals series.
“We had the chance to cement a top four and we are gutted that we didn’t but the reality is we are here to play finals.
“We have given ourselves the chance to do that and we have done that by working hard throughout the year and we are excited about what lies ahead.”