Hasler: Errors to blame, not penalties
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler has pointed the finger at two crucial errors leading into half-time and not a "lopsided" penalty count for his side's 42-12 capitulation against the Broncos in Brisbane on Thursday night.
After starting brightly, the Bulldogs scored the opening try of the game through winger Marcelo Montoya and for the first 35 minutes were arguably the team with the greater share of momentum.
But an error by Adam Elliott in the 32nd minute, a penalty against Josh Morris and a knock-on call against Morris as he lunged desperately to stop James Roberts from scoring gifted Brisbane territory and possession which they duly turned into two tries and a 10-point lead at half-time.
The possession flow continued to run the way of the home side to start the second half but the Canterbury defence held firm until successive penalties for interference on players chasing kicks gave the home side the impetus with which to score three tries in the space of six minutes.
Hasler wouldn't be drawn on the impact of the penalties in what has become an ambiguous area, instead highlighting the errors prior to half-time that allowed Brisbane to gain the ascendancy.
"We're pretty disappointed with the outcome and the performance tonight," Hasler said.
"I thought we were really good early to be honest. I thought we got away to a good start but again we were probably our own worst enemies.
"We just had the momentum our way and we had a couple of crucial errors which were momentum changers for us."
For much of the second half the Bulldogs resembled a boxer stuck on the ropes and holding on for dear life, Brisbane using the weight of possession nudging up near 80 per cent to pound away at the try-line until the opposition relented.
Besides Josh Reynolds trying in vain to rein in an Anthony Milford kick the Bulldogs went 15 minutes without touching the ball, captain Aiden Tolman conceding the lack of possession had to eventually take its toll.
"It was hard that start of the second half," Tolman said.
"I thought we started the first half really strong. We probably didn't deserve to be two tries down that first half but we were and we had to come out and complete and we didn't.
"When you give any team that much possession in that field position sooner or later you're going to crack.
"On the back of the [9-4] penalty count, repeat sets that they got, they were too good tonight and they made us pay."
Like they did in their last start win against the Knights the Bulldogs made a late change to their starting team by shifting Moses Mbye into hooker, pushing Michael Lichaa back to the bench and promoting Matt Frawley into the halves.
After playing five minutes against the Knights Lichaa only featured for eight minutes against the Broncos, Hasler still to decide how they will line up in future as the mathematicians are brought in to assess their finals hopes.
"We'll have a look at it," Hasler said.
"We just thought we'd mix it up a little bit. We started that way two weeks ago against Newcastle.
"There were a couple of soft tries there but I thought our boys tried pretty hard for tonight. Their execution again let us down."