Hasler: Dogs didn't handle the Pressure
Canterbury coach Des Hasler said his side didn't manage the pressure of an intense elimination final well and should have put a spirited Dragons side away earlier.
Hasler though made sure to praise the Dragons for a "gallant" performance that saw them hit the lead in the 76th minute despite being without a playmaker and back-rower due to injury.
"We probably should have put the game away a couple of times," Hasler said after the 11-10 golden point win that was only sealed with a Josh Reynolds field goal after a Gareth Widdop put an attempted 40/20 kick out on the full.
"I'll give St George a rap, I thought they were pretty gallant the way they played tonight. At the same time our boys also never gave up the fight, they played right to the death and we fight again."
After what was a fairly scrappy effort – especially in the first half – Hasler conceded his side didn't manage its possession well and gave themselves too much defending to do.
"We just need to adjust. To keep putting that amount of pressure on your defence, we need to manage what we do when we've got the ball. We were probably just a little bit jittery," he said.
"We didn't even get through our first set but we can address those things, we have a six-day turnaround I believe. We'll get the injuries right, fix up the bruises and get ready for the Roosters [at Allianz Stadium next Friday night]."
Hasler will be sweating on the availability of key forwards Frank Pritchard and Sam Kasiano, who are each on report for a rough challenge on Gareth Widdop after the Dragons playmaker dived on a loose ball after Kasiano charged down a field goal attempt late in regulation time.
Pritchard's knees came into contact with Widdop's back while Kasiano was on report for contacting Widdop's head in the tackle.
Hasler was not forthcoming on his expectations for the pair. "We've just got to wait and see," he said.
Dogs skipper James Graham said the intense affair definitely felt like finals.
"Both teams showed a lot of desperation and that's what it's about, you wouldn't expect any less," Graham said.
"I was expecting it to be close. I got what I expected I guess."
Despite the Bulldogs facing an uphill battle to reclaim the lead in the final couple of minutes before a Josh Morris line break set the stage for their comeback, Graham said he never thought they were out of the fight.
"With a couple of minutes left we back ourselves to at least throw something at them, we did, we came up with a try, missed a goal and they got a penalty," he said.
"It's why we love rugby league isn't it, the twists and turns and rollercoasters.
"Fortunately for us we get off the ride and we get to strap in again next week."
This article first appeared on NRL.com