Canterbury five-eighth Josh Reynolds says the fight for a halves spot will bring out the best in him as well as NSW halfback Trent Hodkinson and young gun Moses Mbye.
With a resting Hodkinson suited up on the sidelines, Reynolds and Mbye combined solidly to lead the Bulldogs to a stirring 24-12 win over Penrith in a pulsating affair on Saturday night.
Not for the first time this season, Reynolds thought he had let his team down when he was binned for a professional foul midway through the first half.
The NSW discard dragged down Panthers five-eighth Jamie Soward in pursuit of a grubber and was marched by referee Grant Atkins.
“I was very frustrated at that, it’s disappointing because they’re obviously going to go with the attacker in that sense because that’s how it goes,” he said.
“I thought maybe just a penalty but I got 10 in the bin and thank God it didn’t cost our team.
“The boys just hang in there for each other anyway so it was great to see.
“I was watching in here on the tv and crossing my fingers and hoping they let in no tries and they didn’t.”
Instead, the Bulldogs upped the ante and not only frustrated the visitors into errors, but powered their way to their way into the top eight with their third win in four games.
Reynolds later returned to score the back-breaking try midway through the second half.
In their previous match over the St George-Illawarra, the 26-year-old was introduced on the hour mark for Hodkinson and sparked the team to victory.
“I’m not going to lie it is hard, all three of us are wanting those spots but that’s footy, that’s just the way it pans out,” Reynolds said.
“I’m sure Dessie’s got an idea. We’ve just got to trust him.
“I know I do, and I’m sure the other boys as well. It’s just what’s best for the team. We have to make sure that whatever part we are playing that we do it well.”
Coach Des Hasler praised Reynolds’ effort but declined to divulge how he would fit Hodkinson into the side after such a dominant performance.
“We’ll wait and see how we pull up. We’ll wait and see what kind of side Melbourne will play,” he said.