Bulldogs coach Des Hasler admitted his team weren’t good enough against the Wests Tigers on Sunday, but only because they never got the chance to prove otherwise.
After going into the sheds with a hard fought 18-16 lead, the two-time premiership-winning coach watched his team capitulate, conceding six tries and scoring none of their own in the second half, eventually going down 46-18.
The 46 points they conceded was easily a season-high and came exactly seven days after they put up a stoic performance in Melbourne, winning 6-4.
"Look, we were undisciplined, we were. We weren't good today. I'll acknowledge that. I think we only had about 18 [completed] sets of possession, so it was always going to be difficult," Hasler said post-game.
"Firstly, congratulations to the Tigers. With that amount of possession, it's very difficult to mount a challenge although, given the fact that 18 of those sets we only had about 9 or ten in the first half, we led 18-16."
The 11th-year mentor then went on the offensive about the officiating, having finished at the wrong end of an 8-4 penalty count. At half-time, it was 4-1 to the home side.
"I'm pretty critical of the referees. I think the penalty country finished up 8-4. It was 4-1 at halftime. I really think they only refereed one side there early," he said.
"I thought the Tigers were just as guilty in slowing the ruck down and laying in the ruck. I thought we could've got a few more penalties there. So consequently, on the back of those penalties and a couple of unforced errors, we found ourselves on the receiving end of a high score-line today."
Hasler went as far as to say that the Tigers hadn't played "particularly well", although it didn't stop him from paying credit to their exuberance and flair.
"We should've beaten the West Tigers today. We didn't think they played that particularly well. They took their chances," he said.
"But one thing I will give them credit for is they played with a lot of energy and they played with a lot of momentum off the back of that possession. For us, that’s probably one we've got to put behind us. We've got a tough one against the Cowboys next week."
Having missed an opportunity to jump to the top of the table, Hasler's side host a Cowboys outfit on Friday night that will be buoyed by their first away win of the season against the Sharks earlier in Round 19.
The Bulldogs hope to have representative centre Josh Morris back in time for that clash, although they will be without the services of prop Tim Browne, who suffered a depressed fracture of the skull in the second half.
Story first appeared on NRL.com