Canterbury coach Des Hasler has identified his side’s slow starts as an Achilles heel that needs to be quickly fixed before their next NRL match against North Queensland.
The Bulldogs consolidated their spot in the top four on Saturday night with a rugged 32-22 win over the Wests Tigers on Saturday night, extending their winning streak to four.
But it was also the fourth time in as many games that Hasler’s men have conceded first points in what Hasler said is fast becoming a concerning trend.
“We were guilty of our own demise early,” Hasler said post-game.
“It’s two weeks in a row now where we’ve let sides get out to a flyer. It’s reflected on some of the stats – we had about 3-4 errors, in good field position too.
“We were unable to convert any of that field position into points and we paid dearly for it … They’re slow starts that we can control, just unforced errors. They’re killers, aren’t they.”
But as slow as the Bulldogs have been to jump out of the blocks, they’ve shown a determined ability to grind out wins, including twice coming back from behind to steal a win against the Tigers.
Hasler was particularly proud of his team overcoming an early caning in the penalty count, however implored them to improve ahead of their date with the Cowboys following next week’s bye.
“At one stage there, (the Tigers) got about five out of the six penalties that were given,” he said.
“They’re big numbers, big stats to overcome. So there was a fair bit of adversity we had to overcome but we were patient and when we got our opportunities, we were able to capitalise.
“But we need to play better, we can play better. Particularly in a fortnight’s time when we play the (competition) favourites in Townsville.”
With fixtures against the Cowboys (twice) and Broncos in their final seven regular season games, Bulldogs skipper James Graham said the challenge was well and truly on to stay in the top four.
“It gives sides a lot of incentive to play well against us,” he said.
“It’s a big challenge but that’s why we’re professionals, we have to rise to challenges and deal with that pressure of having to stay there.”