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Bulldogs halfback Brandon Wakeham.

Dean Pay accepts his coaching fate could rest with a Bulldogs board meeting on Thursday but he believes the team is trending upwards.

Canterbury scrapped hard but fell 20-18 to Cronulla at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday night to put more pressure on Pay, who is uncontracted beyond this season.

The Dogs now sit in 15th place with five losses and one win.

"They've got a [board] meeting this week ... That's their job [to make decisions], I'll just keep doing mine," Pay said post-match.

The mentor was impressed with the grit his side showed to push the Sharks right to the end.

But he conceded the Bulldogs, who have been operating under a restricted salary cap in recent seasons, require some marquee recruits to reach the next level.

Match Highlights: Sharks v Bulldogs

"We're starting to get our cap back in order and we need to buy some real quality players to put around these young blokes that turn up and give 100 percent each and every week," Pay said.

"You saw tonight how much fight they've got in them, and it's difficult, they're under difficult circumstances ... There's no doubt we're heading in the right direction."

Pay said the performance of Brandon Wakeham, who replaced Lachlan Lewis as Kieran Foran's halves partner, was a positive.

Wakeham was sin-binned but had a try assist in his sixth NRL match.

"He was fairly consistent with what he was doing, he defended quite strongly. Again, he's only a young bloke ... He did really well, he's a competitor," Pay said.

"His kicking was quite good as well. He'll only get better. It's going to be great for Wakes to play with Kieran.

Watene-Zelezniak crunches Moylan

"They'll strike up a pretty good combination there and we're hopeful that we can get better with what he's doing."

Canterbury and Cronulla were awarded eight six-again restarts apiece, with Pay saying a few against his team late in the tackle count were "tough calls".

"There was a lot tonight, wasn't there. There were a couple of really big moments in the game that went against us," he said.

Will Hopoate was again immense for the Bulldogs, as was ever-reliable captain Josh Jackson.

Pay praised the commitment of his leaders.

"Sitting in there, they're the two boys who are devastated the most and it means so much to them," Pay said.

Canterbury face Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium next Sunday.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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