Bulldogs back-rower Josh Jackson says while his side couldn't match the ladder-leading Broncos at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, they need to take a lesson from how the Broncos managed the gritty and at times scrappy game.
He described the 16-8 loss as both tough and disappointing as his side failed to capitalise on its chances in Broncos territory and slipped away under a lopsided weight of possession.
He said while he had been away from the squad most of the week in Origin camp, since returning to the group they had spoken about aiming up against the ladder leaders.
"I obviously wasn't there all week but the last couple of days we spoke about trying to set a standard against a benchmark team and test where we are and all credit to Brisbane, they were really good tonight and we just couldn't go with them in the end," he said.
"They play a really good style of footy, they just grind out wins, that's what we need to get into our game and start playing more consistent footy, otherwise we won't be there come finals time."
He said his side seemed to be a bit impatient when they got their rare attacking chances, although he wasn't sure what to put it down to.
"[We were]a bit panicky when we did get field position on the line, giving too many opportunities to a quality team like Brisbane, they're going to hurt you," he said.
"I don't know what the stats are but we defended a fair few sets on our line. I guess you could take some positives out, they only scored three [tries] but in saying that if we want to be there in finals time it's not good enough."
The less-than-clinical effort was even more disappointing given the last-start thumping of the Storm at Belmore in Round 16, according to Jackson.
"I'm not too sure [why we lacked polish] to be honest with you, it just happens sometimes," he said.
"It's just rugby league I guess. Against Melbourne we were awesome and played probably the best game of footy we have all year. To back it up with that [on Saturday night] it's just not good enough.
"I'm not sure what we have to do, I guess you start with doing the simple things right like Brisbane did, just play field position and play a real grinding game of footy and just be patient when you get your opportunities."
The loss leaves Canterbury clinging to eighth spot on the ladder and Jackson said the team was hoping to stage a run over the final eight rounds to guarantee a finals place without worrying about points differential.
"You don't want to rely on for-and-against points to get you into the eight. We've got a pretty big couple of weeks ahead of us. If we don't get those wins it'll be touch and go for us. We really need to knuckle down and scrape a few together," he said.
That starts next Friday night, back at ANZ Stadium against an unpredictable Eels side that, while still below the Bulldogs on the ladder, has now strung three consecutive wins together.
"They always seem to play well against us, Parramatta," Jackson said.
"They're still a quality side I think [despite their ladder position]; no matter where you are on the ladder, every team's got the ability to beat another team on the night. I guess it's a good thing for the competition. In terms of Parramatta we'll sit down and have a look during the week and do our best."
This article first appeared on NRL.com