So the Bulldogs crack a win and everything is coming up Milhouse.
While I was ecstatic with the Dogs scratching out a victory over a lacklustre Cronulla, the cold reality is Canterbury were lucky to fall over the line.
The Sharks bombed at least five try scoring opportunities and the Bulldogs’ inability to count numbers and slide in defefnce is a concern, with the Sharks being able to strip defenders numerous times.
A clinical side such as the Storm would not forgive such mistakes.
Cronulla have been playing as an unhappy side since the axing of John Morris, so this performance is probably not surprising. With reported player unrest and signing movements for 2022 happening in the near-term, Josh Hannay has an unenviable job to get the team back to winning.
With the Bulldogs having got through the first five weeks of the competition with zero wins, the last two games have given a better indication of the team’s standing.
Trent Barrett’s side were competitive for the first half in Townsville against the Cowboys before dropping their performance after the break. Following Jack Hetherington’s send off the team actually played better, were somewhat unlucky to snag a draw (and golden point) late, and continued that performance for the first half the following week, scoring three tries without reply.
The Dogs held on as their opponents came back, showing some grit that was common during the Dean Pay era but had been lacking this year.
Having played both grand finalists and a preliminary finalist in the first five weeks made for probably the toughest draw in the competition. The old enemy, Parramatta, awaits this week. Bulldogs-Eels games are usually close so hopefully the Dogs can stick it to them and continue to improve.
The debut of Jackson Topine and the brief return of Matt Doorey in the last few weeks has shown fans a glimmer of things to come. The missed signing of Brendan Piakura was disappointing but the club locked in a few of their junior players for the future.
It wouldn’t be a Bulldogs article without some signing speculation though.
The fanciful story of recruiting Jason Taumalolo aside, the possible signings of Brent Naden, Kurt Capewell and Toby Rudolf for 2022 give supporters real hope. If Barrett finds a quality hooker, things may be on the up. Having watched Brad Deitz in NSW Cup, I expect him to get an extended run in first grade at some time during the season. Hopefully the injury Deitz sustained late on Saturday is not too serious.
Dale Finucane would be a quality signing, fulfilling a role similar to Ben Kennedy at Manly, showing a young squad what is required as a first-grade footballer. Whether Finucane has the desire to return to the club is another question but he would bring hard-edged competitiveness back to the team.
After their first win of the season, Bulldogs supporters such as myself have been smiling this week. Now to back it up with a quality performance against the Eels.