Home Record: 4 wins, 8 losses (Equal last)
Away Record: 5 wins, 7 losses (Equal 9th)
Best Winning Streak: 3 (Rounds 16-18 – equal 12th)
Longest Losing Streak: 6 (Rounds 8-15 – equal last)
Players Used: 33
Player Of The Year: Brett Kimmorley
Tries Conceded: 95 (12th)
It was a year that promised so much for the new-look Bulldogs – off the back of a stellar season in 2009, where they came from nowhere to almost snare a spot in the grand final, great things were expected by the reborn ‘family club’. But unfortunately for the ’Dogs, it was clear from their very first loss in Round 1 that something was not quite right.
After their first narrow defeat to the Knights in front of a home crowd, the ’Dogs started on a roll of close losses, poor starts and missed opportunities. For a team that had the same nucleus in Brett Kimmorley, Michael Ennis and Ben Roberts, as well as a similar backline and their impressive forward pack, it’s hard to understand how it all went pear-shaped.
But a look over their losses this year shows one common denominator – the Bulldogs were never far off. In terms of truly terrible games, there were only a handful of games that the ’Dogs actually deserved to lose. As it typically comes down to in rugby league, the little things weren’t always executed properly. The ’Dogs made far too many errors at crucial times, as well as missed tackles and experienced periods of poor go-forward. Consistency was difficult to find, and that was their ultimate downfall.
Where They Excelled … Well, they could still score points. The Bulldogs, for the most part, put on scores of 20 or more this season, and were ranked second in the competition for tackle-breaks made. For all their losses, the ’Dogs also generally put in a good effort every time they took the field.
Where They Struggled … They got off on the back foot far too many times this season, allowing opposition teams to trounce them in the opening stages of games.
They were the first to score only 13 times this season, with half their games starting on a deficit. A trait of the ’Dogs was to see them spark to life after already being down by a fair amount of points – spending most of the season chasing their tails.
Go-forward was also a big problem before Ryan Tandy joined the squad from the Storm. Ben Hannant was fairly quiet, and struggled to find a permanent partner in the front row before the signing of Tandy.
Metres conceded was an even bigger problem for the ’Dogs, who were 3rd worst with an average of 1389 metres made against them every game. With their missed tackle count reaching the staggering heights of 50 against the Roosters in Round 19, the ‘Dogs were often their own worst enemies as they gifted teams ample field position.
Missing In Action … Dene Halatau was touted as the man who would replace powerhouse back- rower Greg Eastwood after he went to England – but Halatau’s poor run with injury marred his debut season for the ’Dogs. Halatau played only eight games in the blue and white because of knee and ankle injuries – and managed to string together only two at a time.
New recruit Mickey Paea also had a quiet first half of the season, before sparking to life following his promotion back to the first grade team in Round 16. Elsewhere, Yileen Gordon disappointed after a promising start.
Turning Point… The ’Dogs finally strung some wins together in the middle of the season, with their three-game winning streak lasting from Rounds 16 to 18.
It was their push for four in a row that proved to be the turning point for their season, when they came up against a fired up Roosters side in Round 19. The ’Dogs had their opposition in a stranglehold, but let the Roosters roll over them in the last few minutes for a narrow loss. If they had won, they would’ve gone on to four wins in a row and gained a heap of confidence.
Best Games … It wasn’t all doom and gloom. They thrashed the Roosters in their first meeting of the season 60-14. On a very hot autumn afternoon, the ’Dogs savaged the Chooks and showed just how much attack they possessed.
Their three-game winning streak was also a highlight – particularly their game against a fired-up Storm team in Adelaide in Round 18, where Luke Patten’s huge try-saving tackle got them over the line.
Worst Games… There were big hopes for the ’Dogs the second time they took on the Eels in Round 20, but it’s probably a game that -nd white-supporters would like to erase from their memories.
Jarryd Hayne scored from the first set, in the first minute, and was in again in the sixth – before Krisnan Inu scored twice within the 10-minute mark, to well and truly blow them off the park.
A dishonourable mention goes to the 38-16 loss to the Rabbitohs in Round 4, which was the first indication that something was seriously lacking.
Hold Your Head High … David Stagg would probably be in contention for lock of the year again if his team was further up the ladder. Stagg cracked the 1000 barrier for tackles made this season, averaging 46.2 per game with a huge 94 per cent effectiveness rate.
Jamal Idris also grew in his second year in the NRL, and was among the top 10 tackle-breakers with 121 to his name. The youngster also played his maiden Origin game and showed versatility, being shuffled from centre to the back row and back again. He is developing into one of the most exciting players in the game.
Coach Kevin Moore says: “It’s been a disappointing season. Obviously you come off the season we came off last year and you bounce off into the next season with hope and confidence. We didn’t get off to a good start and the injuries hit and we suffered a little bit with that.
“I think probably as a club we’re not where we want to be from a depth point of view yet. From about 2005 to 2008 we lost a lot of quality players and we’re probably still in a bit of a transitional period. We’ve still got quality at the top but I think the beginning showed we’re probably lacking a bit of depth.”
Conclusion … It wasn’t to be for the Bulldogs this year, with far too many missed opportunities relegating them to the bottom of the ladder. While their standing is probably not a real indication of how they’ve performed this year, it was a massive disappointment for the Belmore-based club, who will be hoping that some new signings will boost them in the competition next year.