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It was a rough season for Bulldogs fans by any measure, with a wooden spoon finish and just three wins for the year – four fewer than the two next-worst sides.

That in itself doesn't really tell the full story, with the side's efforts rarely wavering and the team competitive in plenty of games.

It was never likely to be a successful year at Belmore in coach Trent Barrett's first year at the club, with a salary cap mess still causing roster issues and a rebuild underway.

There are plenty of reasons to hope next year will be better, with a host of high-profile signings inbound and former Panthers supremo Phil Gould recruited late in the year to cast on eye over the football operations and in particular the pathways.

There is still a case the results should have been better than what they were with the squad they had, with ill-discipline a frustrating and repeat cause of fade-outs in games  but there were also some bright spots with a few future talents emerging.

Bulldogs player of the year: Josh Jackson

Regular season win/loss record

Of the Dogs' three wins, two came in 16 games before the competition shifted to Queensland, one home and one away, and one in the eight games after.

The away win was to Cronulla, at their temporary home at Kogarah, in round eight. Their first and only home win of the year didn't arrive until round 14 and came against the Dragons at Stadium Australia.

In what was technically a Wests Tigers home game, the Dogs had their best performance of the year in the last game of the year, trouncing the Tigers 38-0 at Redcliffe in round 25 to at least give them a spring in their step heading into a long off-season.

Run metres differential

This is one of the most crucial stats for determining a team's performance and is highly correlated to ladder finish. The eight best sides in this category made the finals while Canterbury fared worst of the 16 clubs.

They both made the fewest metres per match and conceded the most run metres per game to finish with a per-game run metres differential of -373m per game – more than 100 metres worse than the Broncos.

There's a lot that contributes to this; having a bigger slice of possession means more time spent making metres and less defending. Scoring points and not making errors and conceding penalties and ruck infringements contributes to this.

Also key is simply winning the ruck contest; if rivals are comfortably marching 50 metres per set and you are struggling to make 40, it is tough to even get into a contest.

Try scoring - game time

The Bulldogs were, unsurprisingly, outscored by opponents across the course of the season in all four quarters of games but starting slow was arguably their biggest issue.

In 24 matches Canterbury scored just nine tries in the first 20 minutes of games; next worst was the Dragons (12) and it was also easily the Dogs' worst scoring quarter.

They averaged almost double that in each of the other three quarters, scoring exactly 17 tries for the season in second, third and fourth quarters of games.

Tries conceded - game time

Again the starts to games really hurt Canterbury, and when it came to their defence they really fell away in final quarters as well.

Their defence was actually only slightly worse than mid-table for the two middle quarters of matches. With 27 tries conceded in the 20 minutes before half-time across 24 games, five other teams fared worse in that period and with 29 conceded in the 20 minutes after half time, there were four other sides who let in more in that period.

But in the opening feeling out period of games where tries are generally harder to come by against fresher defences, their 27 tries conceded was the second-most behind the Cowboys. And in the final quarters of games their 38 tries conceded was the most of any club.

That adds up to a differential of -18 in first quarters and -21 in fourth quarters, but only -10 and -12 in the two middle quarters.

Tries scored/conceded from six-agains

With 13 tries scored in the set after receiving a six-again call, the Dogs were comparatively good at taking advantage in this department.

That breakdown included five tries after an offside six-again and a further eight in the set after a ruck infringement.

There were six other clubs that scored fewer than Canterbury's 13 tries in the possession after a six-again call.

Unfortunately like most of their defensive stats, this one isn't pretty reading with an NRL-high 24 tries conceded in the set after a six-again call.

Metres gained from offloads

The Bulldogs made the second-fewest metres from offloads in 2021 – unsurprising given their overall struggles to make metres.

All up they gained 51 metres per match from an average of eight offloads per game.

With 19 offloads for the year, Adam Elliott was the main contributor for a total of 130 additional metres added for the season, ahead of Jack Hetherington (15 offloads for 61 metres) and Will Hopoate (14 offloads for 67 metres).

Goal-kicking accuracy

The Dogs landed a creditable seventh when it came to accuracy off the tee in 2021. Kyle Flanagan was the sharpshooter, going at 85% for his 17 goals from 20 attempts while Jake Averillo was the main kicker when Flanagan was not in the game, kicking at almost 80% for his 27 successful shots from 34 attempts. There were no games in 2021 in which missed goals came back to haunt the blue-and-whites.

Players used

The Bulldogs ended up using 35 players throughout season 2021 – just one behind the Warriors and Broncos, who each used 36.

That included handing out six NRL debuts, and also included the two Canberra loan players Ryan James and Corey Horsburgh.

That lack of continuity was certainly a factor, certainly in the key playmaking spots, while injury and suspension came into play with Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Luke Thompson, Jack Hetherington, Matt Doorey and Jayden Okunbor among those to miss games.

The Bulldogs also had the lowest percentage of any team this year of players who appeared in 11 or more games, with just 54% - 19 of 35 players used – to appear in at least 11 games.

Completion rate

Yet further evidence of completion rates being one of the most overrated stats when it comes to analysing a team's success, Canterbury boasted the best completion rate in the NRL.

That's not to say they'd have been better off making more errors but some more adventure with the ball and asking more questions of opposition defences at the cost of some higher risk to ball handling could have helped generate some more attack.

Interestingly despite completing high, Canterbury struggled to build pressure and earn repeat sets, finishing with fewer total sets (completed or otherwise) per game than any club other than Brisbane.

Average PTB speed

Another quirky stat from Canterbury's 2021 campaign is they boated the fasted average play-the-ball speed in the competition.

It's generally considered a faster play-the-ball generates momentum, gets the defence backpedalling and creates opportunities for playmakers and support runners.

That was not borne out in 2021, with three of the four slowest average play-the-balls belonging to top-eight side Parramatta (3.66 seconds) and top-four teams South Sydney (3.64 seconds) and Melbourne (3.63 seconds).

The Dogs had either the fastest or second fastest average PTB in the competition on every play of sets, from tackle zero through to tackle five.

Acknowledgement of Country

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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