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Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett was left disappointed by poor individual defensive efforts which soured an otherwise spirited showing as Canterbury slid to the club's biggest defeat of the season on Saturday.

Canterbury's goal-line defence was paper-thin at best with tries to forwards Felise Kaufusi and Christian Welch setting an ugly tone for the home side early, and the lapses continued through the 80 minutes of the 52-18 loss to Melbourne.

Another four-pointer to Jahrome Hughes spelled further danger signs before the Bulldogs broke a 265-minute drought to get over the line for the first time in four matches through Luke Thompson.

From there, the Bulldogs began to show some fight and promise in attack before the scoreline reached a half-century late in the game. 

Thompson was easily the Bulldogs' best player with 139 metres to go with his try, while Barrett's men looked more dangerous this week with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak at fullback.

Thompson gets his first NRL try

"There were some positives there but we knew they'd start fast and after 20 minutes the possession was 73 per cent ... I wasn't happy with some defensive efforts individually," Barrett said.

"It was really poor and put us under too much pressure. Whilst I can sugar-coat over it I'm not going to cop it. The two tries before half-time and the two at the death – that's 24 points. We just can't do that."

Bulldogs five-eighth Jake Averillo was also strong in his return game after missing last week's loss to the Rabbitohs with an ankle injury.

Elliott and Averillo combine down the shortside

Criticised for a lack of running in the opening fortnight of the competition, the inexperienced play-maker crossed for a try and played a hand in another.

"He was good, we want him to run the ball, Jake," Barrett said.

"He's still only young and certainly for his confidence he's a player who is quick and can get over the advantage line for us.

"He can change the tempo of games which is what we need but unfortunately tonight our attack was our problem.

"I was happy [with the attack] and we've had to work hard for it. There's only a certain amount of hours in the week and there's a lot of things in the game we need to fix.

"Getting Thommo in there and being able to break a Melbourne defence with some leg speed and second phase certainly helped us and I thought we did look a hell of a lot better."

Watene-Zelezniak picks-off an Averillo kick