Bulldogs hero feared the worst
Often, a player will be labelled a "two try hero". Trent Hodkinson however was earmarked an uncommon two field goal hero following his display in the Bulldogs’ golden point 18-17 win over the Sea Eagles.
Two field goals, one in the 75th minute and another in the 84th, ensured the Bulldogs lived to fight another week but the outcome could have been a lot different for Hodkinson who went off with a knee complaint midway through the first half.
Familiar with serious knee issues after a reconstruction in 2008, with knee and shoulder complaints further restricting him to six games in 2012, Hodkinson feared the worst.
"It's why I stayed down," Hodkinson told media after the game.
"I was concerned with what I had maybe done but our physio tested it back in the sheds and it was all good."
"I felt a bit of movement in the knee but... the tests said it was okay so I came back out."
"I wouldn't have gone back on if it didn't feel good. I was confident in it."
With coach Des Hasler pointing towards floating scar tissue as the cause to his halfback's troubles, the Bulldogs mentor will nonetheless be happy Hodkinson's knee held up to knock over the two high-pressure field goals.
After his heroics in Origin II where he scored the series-winning try and conversion, Hodkinson is fast becoming known as a clutch play specialist.
"I just have a lot of confidence in I guess having that pressure on your shoulders," Hodkinson explained.
"You know I was very confident going into both kicks and I saw them charging at me but I thought I'd have a crack and luckily they went through."
"It is a great feeling to get them over. It would have been very devastating if we gave that game away. Now there are two games to go hopefully for us and we have to go back and work hard on our second halves which are a bit slow.
"Getting out of the blocks we're alright but the second halves have been down so we have to work on that."
While Hodkinson isn't new to kicking two field goals in a game, with the halfback estimating it was his fourth time doing so in the NRL, the prospect of even making it this far in the finals series appeared unlikely when a late season slump looked like finishing Canterbury’s year off early.
While their drop in form lingers having only scored six points in their previous three second halves, Hodkinson is happy to gear up to face the Panthers next weekend knowing they’re two wins away from premiership glory.
"It just wasn't clicking. I think as a team we weren't giving ourselves the best opportunities in the sense we would be finishing games with 40 per cent possession and our completion rate was down at 60 per cent – you can't win games like that and we were doing it consistently," Hodkinson said.
"It was pretty simple in saying that but we realised what we had to fix."
While their form has returned to the heights of the early-season seven game winning streak, Hodkinson and his teammates are now faced with the challenge of extinguishing the red hot Panthers, led by captain Jamie Soward.