Lafai goes from strength to strength
In the most important game of the year Tim Lafai proved he belongs on the big stage.
The Bulldogs bulldozed their way into the semi-finals with Sunday's 28-4 demolition of the Melbourne Storm, in which Lafai crossed for a hat trick and ran for a game-high 178 metres, his highest total for the season.
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler is not often one to single out individuals but even he took note of the performance by the Bulldogs' leading try scorer in 2014.
"Tim has been slowly progressing and he's sort of playing that level now, that week in, week out," Hasler said.
"It's probably been his consistency that he's worked at."
The 23-year-old has been dealt a healthy confidence boost for the remainder of the finals series, as he looms to be a real X-factor in the hard slog that is finals football.
He admits games such as Sunday's do not happen by accident.
"I've just been trying to play consistent footy and get the result for the boys," Lafai said.
"It has been an awesome ride and we just need to keep going for the next week."
That next week is a semi-final meeting with Manly at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
If the Bulldogs can put up the same type of performance as they did against the Storm they could be well on their way to a preliminary final against Penrith.
A 79 per cent completion rate and almost 500 metres in the opening twenty minutes on Sunday had Canterbury rediscovering the mojo that saw them win seven consecutive games earlier in the season.
Sunday's win has injected the blue and whites with belief when they need it most.
"It just shows we are well in this," Lafai said.
"If we can just hang onto the ball, finals footy is a different game. Whoever turns up the most will win."
With the Sea Eagles looking a wounded team at the moment, Canterbury has every chance to end the season of yet another perennial finals contender when the sides meet at Allianz Stadium next Saturday night.