Ennis: I thought I'd blown it
In the 71st minute of Canterbury's semi-final clash with Manly, Michael Ennis thought he had finished his Bulldogs career in the most disappointing fashion.
A costly error from the Canterbury captain after a Kieran Foran banana kick bounced off his chest and out towards winger Cheyse Blair for a scoreline-levelling try had him wondering if this was how it would end after six seasons at Belmore.
Usually the one to give his opposition a spray, Manly duo James Hasson and Justin Horo ensured Ennis would get his fair share which ultimately led to the second punch sin-binning of the game with Reni Maitua marched two minutes into his stint on the paddock.
With the melee raging, Ennis stood to the side trying to come to grips with the fact that their season was perhaps coming to the end. Two Trent Hodkinson field goals however would guarantee an 18-17 golden point victory instead.
"Foran has that little kick back in-field for Stewart. You see it regularly and I could see it coming and I did my best but it just bounced straight off my chest and it all went pear-shaped from there," Ennis explained about his error to the media after the game.
"I had thoughts about [costing us the game] but in saying that the talk behind the line was always positive.
"We've been in that position plenty of times this year and both halves wanted the footy which was pleasing and in the end Trent was able to do it twice.
"He's a pretty special player in those situations. That's probably why he scored that try in game two in Origin. He is calm, sits back and takes his moments and he's a terrific kid to play with."
In what is fast becoming a concerning trend for the Bulldogs however is their inability to score in the second half, with Hodkinson's two field goals the only two points the club were able to collect in the final 44 minutes.
With the Bulldogs only scoring six points in their past three second stanzas, Ennis believes it came down to a combination of things.
"We started well and we probably thought everything was going to fall into place," Ennis said.
"It is one thing knowing Manly are a team that come at you for 80 minutes but the thing is when you get ahead it's a matter of having the discipline to put the foot down and stay on it."
Coach Des Hasler however believed the missed opportunities in the first half will be rued foremost, despite his team acquiring a 16-0 lead after 18 minutes of play, but was proud of his side's ability to hang in there and come out on top.
"Obviously in that first half we probably had some opportunities there where we probably should've capitalised on a few of the attacking raids that we had and we didn't and then to Manly's credit, they're a side that never goes away," Hasler said.
"They're always in it. They've learnt that finals mentality over the years and they're always close enough and no doubt that they got back into the game and hence we had to show a lot of resolve to stay in there... and no doubt it will be one of those games that will probably be remembered for a long time."