'Dumb' Bulldogs slip up
Canterbury Bulldogs coach Des Hasler lamented his side's inability to come up with a game-winning play against the Wests Tigers and described some choices throughout the game as poor management.
The Belmore outfit held a two-point lead before Brenko Lee was sent to the sin-bin in the 68th minute for a professional foul that would later allow the Wests Tigers to take control and storm home.
Hasler admitted his side knew the Tigers would not roll over easily under new coach Ivan Cleary despite a week of off-field distractions.
A brain explosion kick from Bulldogs forward Greg Eastwood on the third tackle in field-goal range minutes out from full-time, along with a number of other errors early in tackle counts had the premiership-winning coach on edge post-game.
"We were dumb… we were dumb in some areas," Hasler said after the match.
"Given the weight of possession I just thought we gave up field position too easily and early in the tackle count.
"I think it was four times on zero [tackle] and late in the game there was a kick on third tackle when we had a seven tackle set.
"It was always going to be one of those games the longer we allowed them to stay in it, it was always going to be won off a kick, ricochet or coming off someone's head.
"They were in the right field position at the right time and consequently they get the result and we don't."
There was mixed reaction from both sheds on the sin-bin call and Hasler insisted sending the former Raider for a spell was the incorrect decision.
Lee took out Wests Tigers back-rower Chris Lawrence in an illegal attempt at chasing a James Tedesco grubber kick in-goal.
"I thought the 10-minute sin-bin was harsh… very harsh," he said.
"The penalty was probably warranted but not a sin-bin.
"[But] that's not the reason why they won… we didn't manage the game as well as we should have.
"If you're not exposing sides with repeat sets and the ability to play field position then you won't always have to try and manufacture tries like that [to Kerrod Holland] – it's something we have to get better at.
"They [Wests Tigers] played well and probably the best they've completed all year on the back of a 7-2 penalty count."
Bulldogs skipper James Graham questioned the NRL Bunker's decision to send Lee to the sin-bin via referee Gerard Sutton when the incident occurred and said it was something the team had to quickly get over with scores back locked at 12-all.
"I wasn't happy going down to 12 men but the referee made a decision and you have to respect that and move on," Graham said.
"We had the opportunity to win the game but that ricochet try cost us [in the end]."
With their first loss in a month, the Bulldogs return to ANZ Stadium on Saturday keen to make amends but will face a Canberra Raiders outfit reeling after their 20-18 golden point loss against the Sea Eagles last Friday night.