Hasler laments inconsistent Bulldogs season
It was the one-word answer given by Bulldogs coach Des Hasler when asked to sum up Canterbury's season in the minutes after that season was ended in convincing fashion by an impressive Panthers outfit.
The 28-12 result on Sunday evening was the fourth straight loss for the blue and whites, who were poised to push for a top-four finish with three games to go before slipping to seventh and a first-round finals exit.
"It was very disappointing," Hasler said of the loss, which came via a second-half slump having taken a 6-4 lead to the break and also featured injuries to three of the four members of the Bulldogs spine.
"The simple fact is we didn't compete well enough in the second half.
"I know you're going to say there were injuries and there were people missing. Michael Lichaa missed 15 minutes [for a concussion check], Josh Reynolds missed 15 minutes [also for a concussion check], BMoz (Brett Morris) didn't finish the game.
"But I think we had too many missed tackles and didn't compete well enough in the second half. I thought the first half was very willing. We've got an off-season to think about it."
Despite the Channel Nine cameras revealing an all-time spray from the coach to his charges – and in particular back-rower Tony Williams – in the sheds at half-time, Hasler said he wasn't too unhappy with the efforts in the first 40.
"[I was happy] up to a certain point. I thought we could have been doing better," was Hasler's assessment of the first half.
Captain James Graham said the players were "bitterly disappointed" with their second-half efforts after giving themselves a chance in the first 40.
"It was a really tough game, it was end to end and we had to turn up and the second half, I just can't put my finger on it. It's a pretty down dressing room at the minute," Graham said.
He also refused to blame the injury toll for the result.
"It's hard to say [how it would have panned out]. You don't have that crystal ball to say what the alternative is if they're all right but like Dessie says there was a lot of missed tackles," he said.
"It doesn't matter who's out there we should have done better, especially in that second half."
Both Graham and Hasler paid healthy credit to the quality of their opposition, backing the Panthers to cause more headaches before the season is done.
"I thought they played really well, they made us work really hard in the middle the way they moved the ball across," Graham said.
"They've got people that can skip and jink and find an offload late and really put you under pressure and keep you guessing in defence.
"You've got to give a fair bit of credit to them, they're e very young exciting team and like to throw the ball around a bit and certainly ask a lot of questions of you."
Hasler said the Panthers had done better than he expected.
"They could be a surprise packet actually," Hasler said. "There could be a few more upsets. They've got the Raiders next week. They certainly won't be taking them lightly, that's for sure."