Ugly display does the trick for Bulldogs
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler was left with more questions than answers despite his side's 13-10 win over the Dragons in Round 21 of the NRL Telstra Premiership on Friday night.
Fourteen errors had a big influence on Hasler's opinion of the Bulldogs' performance though he was pleased to see his side earn a much-needed win.
The Bulldogs' 12th win of the season sees them re-enter the top four on the Telstra Premiership ladder for the time being.
Their three-point win over St George Illawarra comes just eight days after they were humbled by reigning premiers North Queensland to the tune of a 36-0 flogging.
Racing out to a 13-0 lead at half-time, the Bulldogs failed to register a single point in the second stanza.
"Possession is a real issue for us at the moment. We have been coming up with too many unforced errors and it's something we need to address pretty quickly," Hasler said.
"There's some very good aspects about what we're doing, but there are other aspects we need to address. We didn't provide much of a platform in attack in the second half.
"We were able to get into some good field position but we couldn't complete the sets."
Defence won out for the Bulldogs in the end with their efforts failing to waiver throughout the game against the Red V.
The Dragons were denied on countless occasions by frantic Bulldogs' defence which ranged from skipper James Graham's huge hit on Euan Aitken in the first half to Will Hopoate's game-saver on Gareth Widdop in the final three minutes.
"They're great moments, it's a testament to their desperation," Hasler said.
"They're the one-percenters those great try-saves. But we have to be able to back it up with something as simple as completing the next set too."
What was telling for the Dragons at the game's end was their failure to deliver the killer blow needed to reverse their now four-game losing run.
While the Dragons' halves partnership in Widdop and halfback Benji Marshall were evidently handed a license to thrill against the Bulldogs, they still struggled to execute when it mattered most.
"We created a lot of opportunities and we'll take a lot of confidence from that," Widdop maintained.
"We have been working hard so it's good to see that things are paying off for us. I know we didn't get the result, which is what we were after, but we can take some positives from it."
The Dragons could finish Round 21 as low as 12th on the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder.
Yet they showed enough for coach Paul McGregor to declare they'll be out to carry on what they started into Thursday's clash with the Broncos.
"The last time we played the Bulldogs they ran 500-more metres than us and we stopped that this time around," he said.
"Our defensive control was really good as was our intent. We need to build from here and play that sort of footy from the start next Thursday."