Hasler, Graham scathing of Bulldogs
Considering the way their return to Belmore Sports Ground for the first time in 18 years played out a month ago, Bulldogs captain James Graham has admitted his team were complacent in their 18-16 loss to the Cronulla Sharks, adding they relied on their home ground advantage too much.
Looking back at Round 16's win over Melbourne at their spiritual home, the Bulldogs managed to score three tries in 13 minutes to all but seal proceedings over an opposition clearly overawed by 16,000 screaming fans.
It certainly didn't come as easy this time around against former skipper Michael Ennis and the Sharks. With an extra three thousand people packed in for good measure, the Bulldogs looked lethargic and struggled to get out of first gear for much of the game.
Asked about whether attitude or execution cost him and his teammates, Graham didn't hold back in assessing his side's two-point loss.
"It was one of those games where maybe we thought it was just going to happen for us," Graham said.
"Especially after what happened the last time we were here and whatnot. I don't know if we as a group approached it the right way.
"I could sense from the get-go that they really came to play and honestly I think they just wanted it a little bit more."
In a game where there was a combined 50 errors and penalties conceded between the two teams, Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said he was "filthy" about how the game panned out.
With a consolidated place in the top six on the line leading into the final six rounds of the regular season, Hasler told it how it was.
"It was a poor game of footy from both sides. We're pretty disappointed. Actually, filthy with the way we played and how we went about it," Hasler said.
"We were sloppy, we didn't execute well, possession was hard to find out there and it's nowhere near what we're capable of.
"We completed 20 sets from 35, I don't want to bore you with stats, but even on a 14-6 penalty count which went against us we still came up with three disallowed tries – and you'll find each decision was correct. So again it's just another sign of poor execution.
"We really lost that game which is disappointing particularly with the fans and everyone turning up. They probably deserved a bit better than what we served up out there. That's just the cold hard facts and the truth though. It wasn't a great game of football."