Canterbury’s reign as golden point kings of the NRL proves the team’s ability to rise for the big games, according to star Josh Reynolds.
The Bulldogs’ extra-time win over Manly on Thursday was their ninth win in 12 games since golden point’s inception in 2003, the best record in the competition.
And it was Reynolds who once again proved the hero, scoring the match-winning play for the third time in their past three matches that have gone past the 80th minute.
The Bulldogs pivot said their league-best 79 per cent record showed their ability in the crunch.
“You’ve got to block everything out. The game might be that bit faster because everyone wants to win, but you’ve got to be the opposite,” Reynolds told AAP on Sunday.
“You’ve got to slow it down and just do what you do, set up for the field goal or get lucky with a lucky bounce and get a try. It’s a fair thing to say that we don’t really get flustered by the big games.”
The victory over the Sea Eagles lifted the Bulldogs to third on the NRL ladder, though they will drop back to fourth if Canberra topple Melbourne on Monday night.
Winners of seven of their past eight, Canterbury can lock in a second chance in the finals with a win over fellow top-eight contenders Brisbane on Thursday.
But while there are three games remaining in the regular season, Reynolds believes their difficult next fortnight against the Broncos and North Queensland mean the semis have come early.
“It’s going to be a big, big challenge for us, but I feel we’re up to it,” he said.
“They’ll both be semi-finals games. We’ll go up to Brissy on Saturday night and there’ll be a massive crowd and they’re going alright at the moment, too.
“If we go set for set with them, I feel that we can get a result. But if we do what we’ve been doing over the last month, to be brutally honest, we won’t be there at all.”
The Bulldogs are likely to be back to full strength for the first time this year, with Greg Eastwood set to return from a hamstring strain to take on the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
It will be the first time the Bulldogs will have fielded their first-choice 17 following injuries to Brett Morris, Michael Lichaa, Tony Williams and Eastwood at certain stages this season.
“He’s massive for us. His defence, his hit-and-stick and line speed really gets out of trouble. We’ll welcome him back for open arms,” Reynolds said.