Bulldogs youth brigade the driving force behind effort
The fountain of youth at Canterbury is the catalyst for a side desperate to end their season on a high note over the final five games left and avoid the wooden spoon after their giant-killing 16-4 win over the Wests Tigers.
While the side is in for a rebuilding phase next season with a host of big names departing the club, Bulldogs coach Dean Pay is finding effort and motivation no issue with the young brigade.
Pay admitted the performances of his young halves Lachlan Lewis and Jeremy Marshall-King weren't perfect against the Tigers, but neither has the side's gritty style of play over the course of the season.
The halves have been criticised for their last-tackle options of late but they did enough late in Friday's game at ANZ Stadium to close out any chance of a Tigers comeback.
"The both of them, you can't question their attitude to football," Pay said of Marshall-King and Lewis after the win.
"That's what is getting them through and they're improving each week.
"[Lachlan] is a young bloke and has a crack, that's what we like about him.
"He throws everything into his performance. Is it perfect? It's not, but he's working hard on his game. He'll get better."
Pay was animated in the coaches box as he watched his side jump out to a 14-0 lead, before anxiously looking on in the final 10 minutes of the clash.
The side's wave of emotions came out in the team song after the game – more celebrated than their usual team song heroics.
"So they should be, I'd be disappointed if they weren't," Pay said.
"They've been hanging together really well and we've had a lot of disappointments but they need to enjoy a win.
"You just ride everything with them, that's for sure. It's a good reward for the boys, like last week they put a hell of an effort in for no result [14-8 loss to Eels].
"Tonight we got a result, the effort was fantastic and they kept turning up for one and other. It was good enough tonight."
Bulldogs skipper Josh Jackson added the win was reward for a tough month.
"It was a fantastic performance, attitude and effort hasn't been something we've lacked throughout the season. We've just needed a polish at the end of it," he said.
"Certainly wasn't a perfect performance but it was one that was well deserved by everyone."