Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has taken a glass-half-full view of a difficult season after losing Saturday’s elimination final to St Kilda.
Canterbury will go down fighting to end their miserable NRL season after stunning South Sydney on Thursday night.
The Bulldogs have been heralded for much of the season for their toughness, but after seven weeks of losses, they finally scored their third win on Thursday night.
And while it won’t guarantee they avoid their first wooden spoon since 2008, it did grant them some relief after a miserable season.
“I know there was a little bit of pressure to get us off the bottom of the ladder but I think the pressure was on them to put an 80-minute performance in and I think they did that, which was the most pleasing thing,” said interim coach Steve Georgallis.
“Also the fact that I said if they won that they get four days off.
“We don’t play until the following Saturday, so I think they’ll need the four days off after that.”
With a four-day break on the line and showing up in skipper Josh Jackson’s 200th NRL game, there was plenty of motivation for the Bulldogs on Thursday.
And while Jackson was typically inspirational, so too were some of the youngest players in the squad.
Jake Averillo pulled a quad muscle at training on Wednesday but played through the pain after half Lachlan Lewis was taken off with a head knock.
He finished with a try assist, four goals and a tackle-break in a gutsy performance from the 20-year-old.
“You could just see that he wasn’t striding out and obviously gave Brandon Wakeham the goalkicking duties at the end there,” Georgallis said.
“He said to me at halftime, ‘mate I’ll go the rest of the second half… don’t take me off unless I need to come off’, and to his credit, he stayed on.
“It’s great from a young kid to show that perseverance.”
It was a positive show of guts from a side that has struggled to match energy with energy at stages this year.
They will now play Penrith in the final game of their season at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.