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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Bulldogs doing themselves no favours in bid to shed spoon tag

If you listened to most rugby league pundits before a ball was kicked in 2019, Canterbury were heavily tipped to endure a difficult season.
Six rounds in and those who had the Bulldogs pencilled in for the wooden spoon are feeling vindicated on the back of a 1-5 start and the worst defensive record in the NRL.
Canterbury's best performances in the opening six rounds, including a 22-8 win over Wests Tigers in round three and a narrow 18-16 loss to heavyweights Melbourne, have been undone by poor defensive showings against the Warriors, Dragons and Eels.
Their eight-point loss to the Rabbitohs on Good Friday showed plenty of resilience but their error rate cruelled any chance the injury-hit Bulldogs had of springing an upset.
"Not that you listen to what people to say externally because it's not what we believed over the summer but it is what it is," skipper Josh Jackson told NRL.com on Tuesday.
"At the start of the year we were confident with the pre-season we had but the reality is we haven't performed well and if we want to prove a lot of people wrong we can't do that by playing inconsistent footy.
"One week we're putting in a good performance and the next we're leaking points."
The Bulldogs' performance against Melbourne in round four set the standard for intensity, but Jackson has been left disappointed by the ensuing fortnight's results
"We've got the team that can compete with anyone but we need to believe that," he said.
"We put in a good performance against Melbourne but we played the Dragons the week after and didn't back that up.
"When we put it together and you saw against Melbourne, we can really test teams. We're still confident with what we're doing but are shooting ourselves in the foot."
Jackson refuses to blame the absence of key playmaker Kieran Foran and forward enforcer Dylan Napa for the lack of cohesion and consistency.
Both are sidelined with syndesmosis injuries but are eyeing earlier than expected returns in good news for the club.
"Hopefully they're' back in the next few weeks but even so there's guys here who should be able to fill in and do a job," Jackson said.
"Naps has been fantastic for us. I know he hasn't played for a couple of weeks but the start of the year he had I don't think I've seen him play better footy.
"He had some tough periods but was our best player in the opening four weeks he played."

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