It’s the daunting statistic on late-season momentum casting doubt over Canterbury’s NRL title push.
The Bulldogs go into Friday’s last round clash with South Sydney desperate to ignite their run, with history showing they shape as sitting ducks unless they get cracking before the finals.
After two straight losses – and staring down the barrel of three consecutive defeats for the first time since early last season – the Dogs have been spluttering when they need to be surging, slipping out of the top four.
In the 109-year history of the competition, no side has ever lost their last three regular season matches and won the premiership, according to Fox Sports Stats.
While the 1966 Balmain side lost their last three and went on to make the grand final, they fell at the last hurdle against St George.
Canterbury coach Des Hasler knows plenty about getting teams into the finals, having achieved the feat in his last 12 seasons as head coach at Manly then the Bulldogs.
He admits concern about his side’s poor ball control and other simple errors which have cruelled them over the last month.
“Momentum is important. This game is about getting the little things right,” Hasler said.
“(Their mistakes) have been pretty fundamental and we need to correct that.
“It’s not frustrating but it’s a critical part that we need to fix.”
While the Dogs will have to buck history if they lose to the Rabbitohs, Hasler – who secured two premierships from three grand finals with Manly and two grand final appearances in four years with the Dogs – has proven himself as a man who can spark his side.
In 2014, the Bulldogs lost six of their last eight regular season games, including their last two, before they went on a finals run and met the Rabbitohs in the grand final.
Hasler also took Sea Eagles to the 2007 grand final after they lost two of their last three regular season games.
In his element as finals near, Hasler reckons 2016 has provided a particularly close competition.
“It’s exciting this time of year,” he said. “It’s been one of the closest I can remember in sorting out a top eight.”
Hasler is also wary of the momentum South Sydney have gathered while winning their last three matches in an otherwise forgettable season.
“They’re pretty mobile, they’ve got some handy players in there so I imagine their motivation is to finish the season on a high,” Hasler said.
Halfback Moses Mbye has been cleared to take on the Rabbitohs despite requiring stitches after a training mishap when he collided with Michael Lichaa during the week.
STATS THAT MATTER
* Canterbury won the Good Friday clash but have not won both regular season matches against the Rabbitohs since 2011.
* The past two matches between Souths and the Bulldogs have both been high scoring with at least 50 points scored in each.
* The Bulldogs are ranked equal second for the least amount of missed tackles (21.4 per game).
Source: Fox Sports Stats