Adam Elliott says the Bulldogs forwards relished the chance to tune up against the vaunted Raiders pack in their final pre-season hit-out.
While a late Sam Williams try earned the Raiders a 12-10 win in Port Macquarie, the most eye-catching feature of Canterbury's strong first half was their first contact in defence and control of the ruck against a team boasting internationals Josh Papalii, Elliott Whitehead, Joe Tapine and Sia Soliola.
Until Williams cut through late against a reserves dominated line-up, the only line break against the Dogs came via an individual piece of Tapine brilliance to offload in heavy traffic.
New hooker Sione Katoa was as resolute in defence as his teammates with Elliott himself a standout early.
Dylan Napa made some powerful charges and Corey Harawira-Naera added another dimension on his return from Maori All Stars duty.
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"I was really bummed I didn't get to play in the All Stars game but I got a chance to get out here [to Port Macquarie] and have a really good hit out against one of the best forward packs in the comp," Elliott said.
"I pulled up good out of it so really looking forward to round one now.
"Trials are about giving young kids a crack and trying a few different things and chopping and changing a little bit but when it gets to this last one you're only two weeks out from the season so you really want to put your best foot forward.
"We really wanted to highlight the work we've done over the pre-season on our defence in particular and I think we defended really well."
The aggression from the forwards laid the platform for the team's run of wins last year and will be a focal point again.
"We spoke about being aggressive but also making sure we make our tackles and that we're controlled with that aggression," Elliott added.
"Coming up against a team like Canberra, it's a good test for you before round one. Blokes like Papalii, if you can handle them there's not too many forward packs who should be able to rattle you."
He also praised the contribution of former Panther Katoa after a long pre-season of building combinations.
"He has been there from week one of the pre-season so you forget when footy's not on TV every week that we're still in there training," Elliott said.
"Sione's turned up early November coming off the back of an international season as well.
"He's a great player, fitted in really well and we've obviously got Jeremy Marshall-King looking to come back for maybe round one or round two."
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Elliott said he was pumped to be involved in the NRL season-opener at Bankwest Stadium against the Eels.
"I couldn't wait to get out and play [against Canberra] and just so happy I got through this game unscathed and everyone can look forward to round one," he said.
"It's going to be a cracker out there, there will be a big crowd, Bankwest is a great ground to play at and Parramatta's got a great team this year and went deep into the finals last year so it's a good test for us."