Bulldogs coach Des Hasler was left to lament a lack of execution in attacking positions as his side fell 24-18 to the Roosters despite a strong second-half fightback that saw them pull to within two points with 20 minutes remaining.
It was a frustrating result for the Bulldogs who dropped out of the Telstra Premiership top eight and must now navigate the tricky State of Origin period without their representative players.
The day started well for Canterbury with Josh Morris giving them an early lead but things quickly went downhill as the Roosters' potent left edge clicked into gear to give the visitors a 14-point cushion at half-time.
Tries to Kerrod Holland and Matt Frawley brought the crowd to life, but a string of errors and a late Mitchell Pearce try were enough to get the Tricolours home.
Hasler was frustrated by his side's lack of polish in attack but refused to blame Frawley and halves partner Moses Mbye for failing to take control.
"What we're disappointed about is when we gained field position, I think we only completed three out of eight of what they call good ball [sets]," he said.
"You can't blame the halves. You have to give them the opportunity to build pressure. Of the eight times we were down there we only completed three sets. We were kicking early in tackles and throwing speculative passes so it just builds and builds."
Apart from a 17-minute period that saw the Roosters run in three tries, the Bulldogs were always in the contest, and it was that fighting spirit that impressed Hasler the most.
"I was pretty pleased with the way we came back in the second half. I thought they showed a lot of good footy nous and we showed a bit of courage to get back in. We got back into that mentality of the set for set grind," he said.
"They managed it better than what we did at the end of the day. They're a very good footy side so you have to keep possession away from them. You need to get an even share of possession."
The Bulldogs will head into next week's game in Cronulla just outside the top eight on points differential, but Hasler knows his side could – and probably should – be further up the table following surprising losses to the Wests Tigers and an understrength Cowboys in recent weeks.
"We've probably got ourselves to blame, to a certain extent, because we've dropped some games that we shouldn't have dropped," he said.
"Going into the Origin now, we're going to have to work really hard."