Canterbury coach Dean Pay has lamented another week in which his team created opportunities but came away empty-handed following a determined showing against ladder-leaders South Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.
The Bulldogs 24-6 loss featured a number of near misses: winger Reimis Smith went touch-in-goal twice trying to score; a slight knock-on in the lead-up denied Aiden Tolman at the Bunker; and Will Hopoate along with a few others were held up over the line.
"For the amount of effort the boys put in today, Souths took their opportunities and we missed out on ours," was Pay's assessment after the loss.
"I thought that was the difference in the game. We had a bit of run of the play, Jeremy [Marshall-King] got the ball knocked out of his hands, it [could have] gone back to 18-12 then.
"At the moment that's where we're at - we just can't take a trick at the moment - that's from last week and sort of rolled into this week. But I'm really proud of the boys, their effort, the way they keep turning up for one another, and their attitude towards the club and themselves and their fans, the members, they're trying their arses off for them.
Match Highlights: Bulldogs v Rabbitohs – Round 18, 2018
"The effort's fantastic, we just can't nail our opportunities when they arise."
Pay praised a huge effort from prop David Klemmer backing up three days after Holden State of Origin III plus an inspirational knock from skipper Josh Jackson in his 150th NRL game as well as a hugely impressive showing at fullback from Hopoate.
"He was great Klem, he's got a bit of a knee issue as well... He loves his football and he wants to play, I think the's playing some great footy for us, I'm so happy he's in our club.
"I thought Hoppa was fantastic for us again. Jacko does it every week for us, you come to expect it from him. Sometimes you get used to him playing at the level he does and expect it but it's a tough thing to do each and every week and he does it every week for us with all the attitude and all the footy and everything that's in him, he does a fantastic job for us."
Hopoate was enjoying his football and relishing the chance to take over from departed No.1 Moses Mbye, Pay said.
"He's a footy player, Hop, he's enjoying his time at fullback and he's enjoying his training and he's turning up and enjoying everything he does with his footy and the boys are responding to him so he's creating some opportunities for us that's for sure."
Jackson reflected on his own milestone with mixed feelings.
Jackson reflects on 150 games
"It's gone really quickly for me," Jackson said. "It's always a privilege and a great honour to wear this jersey each and every week and to do it 150 times at this great club is something I'll definitely look back at and remember."