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The Bulldogs swarm on Brad Takairangi.

Canterbury showed grit during a late resugurance last season and they'll need to add more defensive starch to compete with the heavyweights in 2020.

Despite rising from the cellar to finish 12th, the Bulldogs gave up both the most overall metres (41,622) and post-contact metres (12,288) in the league last season.

Dean Pay's men were valiant in protecting their try-line – they ranked a respectable seventh for tries conceded – however the fatigue from allowing opposing teams to surge upfield no doubt took a toll.

The amount of post-contact metres could suggest the side's first-up contact wasn't strong enough, they lacked numbers in tackles, and/or their wrestle was poor – therefore hindering their ability to effectively halt a ball runner's momentum.

And as teams were usually able to roll into Canterbury territory with ease, the Bulldogs often had to ruck it out of their own end.

In fact, over the course of the season they spent just 47.9% of time in the opposition's half – ranking 12th in the competition.

They also had the least possession of any team with 48%.

Having frequently been on the back foot it's no wonder the Belmore-based club managed a season-low 326 points.

Limiting the opposition's metres has a correlation to success, with all but one of the 2019 finalists ranking inside the top half in that department. Eighth-placed Brisbane were the outlier.