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Bulldogs centre Will Hopoate.

A proud Bulldogs coach Dean Pay says he is aiming to build the team into a top-four force and while making no guarantees over how long that might take, was rapt with yet another top-eight scalp in his side's late-season surge.

"For what we're building, I'm just so proud of them," Pay said.

"We spoke about wanting to finish season off the best way we possibly can and spoke about defending well and putting a lot of energy into our defence.

"Over the last six or seven weeks that's what kept us in games and gave us the opportunity to win games."

An inspirational effort in both defence and attack from skipper Josh Jackson led the way.

"I say it every weekend, he's the heart and soul of this team, him and Aiden Tolman," Pay said.

"But there wasn't a bad payer out there."

A monumental 263 metres, 10 busts and a try from centre Will Hopoate – forced to spend time at fullback after a shoulder injury to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak – was a standout while Pay was also heartened by impressive games from younger players like Nick Meaney, Kerrod Holland and Corey Harawira-Naera.

Match Highlights: Eels v Bulldogs

With six wins from their past eight games – every one of those six against a team that was inside the top eight at the time – Canterbury remarkably remain a mathematical chance of making the eight if they win their final two games and a raft of other results go their way.

Pay laughed when reminded the door is still fractionally ajar but still preferred to look ahead to what was building.

"We've got to go to North Queensland next Thurdsay, we will get ourselves ready, they want to finish their season off in best fashion as well," he said.

"We've been on the journey we've been on. We want to be a top-four team. We want to get there and however long that takes it takes but once we get there we want to be a consistent top-four footy team."

A lot of things still have to be put in place for that to happen, he cautioned.

"It's not going to happen overnight but over the last month things are starting to turn for us," he added.

Pay was hopeful a likely AC joint for Watene-Zelezniak, which appeared to result from the Brown shoulder charge, was not serious. However Pay couldn't resist a jab at the fiery Eels lock, who could yet face a suspension for the challenge.

"He was having a go all night. He was consistent," Pay said, suggesting the Brown tackle was worse than the head contact that landed Reimis Smith in the bin and on report.

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