Bulldogs did enough to win: Hasler
It's perhaps stating the obvious but Bulldogs coach Des Hasler was nonetheless disappointed by his side's late 20-18 loss to the Sharks on Monday night.
The Bulldogs were literally 100 seconds away from victory before Ricky Leutele's last gasp try and James Maloney's sideline conversion denied Hasler's side equal-fourth on the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder.
Hasler said post-game his Bulldogs did everything but win, and the statistics certainly backed his claim.
The Bulldogs made just four errors all game and completed at a season-high 88 per cent. Only ill-discipline held them back in the grand scheme of the game (eight penalties to Sharks' three).
Even without the majority of the ball (10 fewer sets than the Sharks) the Bulldogs matched the current competition leaders in terms of metres and doubled the amount of Cronulla's offloads.
"We did enough to win the game. As much as we made it hard for ourselves," Hasler said.
"To use the old cliché, it's an 80 minute game. But I thought we were the better side. I thought we positioned it well enough. Each side gave the other their chances and we weathered the momentum changes in the game pretty well too.
"But as I said, we all but. We didn't help ourselves at the very end though when we should have shut it down, but we didn't.
"All in all, it's a very disappointed football side in there because we certainly did enough and we weathered everything they had to throw at us. In the last 10 minutes we managed the game very well so it's pretty disappointing."
Hasler was asked to assess the Bulldogs season at the halfway point of the NRL season.
"Last week and this week, they're games that are going to come back [to haunt us]," he said. "Particularly in this Origin period when you're playing first place with a chance at cracking the top four."
Hasler was referring his disappointment to the Bulldogs' 32-20 loss to the Raiders in Round 12 – a game where they allowed Canberra to score 22 unanswered points in the second half.