After convincing themselves they’re good enough to match it with the best in the NRL, Canterbury are readying to take out their frustrations on St George Illawarra on Monday.
While Des Hasler’s Bulldogs left ANZ Stadium disappointed and without two points following their last-gasp loss to Cronulla on Monday night, it did prove a point about whether they could match it with the best sides in the competition.
After yo-yoing form in the first 13 weeks, their clash with the Dragons shapes as an important test and Hasler said he was viewing it as a “four-point game”.
A win heading into the bye would provide their top eight hopes with a real shot in the arm, but equally important is denying the Dragons, who also sit on 14 points, a chance to move ahead of them.
“A win is important at this stage of the year given the congestion,” Hasler said on Sunday.
“The players were pretty disappointed coming off the Cronulla game. Given the fact they had reason to think they had done enough to win.
“Footy being the way it is, we lost the game in the dying seconds. So it’s important to win, particularly going into the bye.”
Monday’s match will be the first time the two sides have met since the Dogs knocked the Dragons from the semi-finals in a golden point thriller last year.
Hasler on Sunday confirmed frequently-criticised back-rower Tony Williams had earned a first-grade recall, after Adam Elliott succumbed to a hamstring injury.
The Dragons are last start winners against premiers North Queensland, however Paul Green’s side was badly affected by the loss of key stars because of Origin.
Hasler said his squad had moved on from the disappointment of last week’s loss but were hungry to move back into the winner’s circle.
“This side is fairly resilient, they’re used to close finishes,” Hasler said.
“We can’t argue, we can’t complain. There have been occasions we’ve won the close ones. It’s just something we have to put behind us.”
STATS THAT MATTER
* Canterbury have won seven of their past eight meetings with the Dragons
* The Dragons are five from five at home this season. As a joint venture they have never won their first six home matches of a season.
* The Dragons attack is still struggling, on average scoring the second fewest points (11.9 per game), the second fewest tries (2 per game) whilst making the fewest linebreaks (2.4 per game).
Source: Fox Sports Stats