The Bulldogs missed out on the VB NSW Cup final series for the second straight season in 2014 and managed to win just six games, the same number of matches they won in 2013.

Finished: 11th
Record: 6-16-2 (-130)
Players Used in 2014: 41
Season Highlight: A thoroughly convincing 28-0 win over the NZ Warriors at Belmore in Round 13.
Season Lowlight: Too many ‘competitive’ losses.

With that said, it was probably a slightly more productive season than last year when you also factor in that they had two draws to go with the six wins, and also a host of close losses.

In fact eight of the clubs sixteen losses in 2014 were by 10 points or less, and had they won a handful of these games earlier in the year, perhaps they may have been in finals calculations over the concluding rounds of the season.

Another indicator of the Bulldogs competitiveness for the most part was their for and against (-130). Manly also won just the six games in 2014 yet their for and against (-317) was significantly worse than that of the Bulldogs, which certainly indicates that while many of Manly’s losses were blowouts, the Bulldogs managed to stay more competitive for longer periods throughout the year.

Obviously in the end of the day the Dogs didn’t win enough of those close games and ultimately that cost them dearly. Wyong was a great example this season of being a club that could grind out results. Wyong ended up being the only side to finish inside the top eight with a negative for and against (-50), yet managed to win more of the close games than they lost and that’s why they played finals and the Dogs didn’t.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though down at Belmore with a number of young and exciting players cutting their teeth in open age football, and hopefully the club will be the beneficiary of this in the coming years.

Players like Jaline Graham, Pat Templeman, Lindon McGrady, Ed Murphy, David Minute, Llyod Perrett and Tyrone Phillips all spent plenty of time out in the middle for the Bulldogs in 2014, and given their respective ages, there is plenty of upside to this group of young men and they will definitely be better for the run so to speak.

There were also plenty of other good performers for the Bulldogs with guys like Harlan Alaalatoa, Damien Cook, Lachlan Burr and Makahesi Makatoa all consistent right throughout the year.

When push came to shove, the Bulldogs were just not as talented, or as experienced, as many of the top sides, but at the same time, were probably more talented than their finishing position of 11th would indicate.

Conclusion: Overall a disappointing season for a club that used to dominate at this level just a few years ago. Clearly there has been a shift at the club around its attitude towards its second tier sides and that has shown over the past couple of seasons.

Score: 6.5/10

Story first appeared on NSWRL.com.au