Jackson sees similarities to 2014
For the second year running, Des Hasler's Bulldogs have pushed their way into the bottom half of the eight as a side that can genuinely worry the top four and dodged a bullet with a golden point win early in September.
The similarities aren't lost on Canterbury back-rower Josh Jackson, who was involved in a memorable 18-17 golden point win over Manly in the second week of last year's finals.
There are differences – the Bulldogs finished the 2015 regular season in more promising form with five straight wins compared to their two-from-eight form to finish last year, and fifth place is always better than seventh.
The Dogs will be hoping there is a difference in the back end too, given they finished runners up to the Rabbitohs last year and will be desperate to go one better this time around.
"I guess it's probably similar to last year, we played Manly and only just won against them in golden point in the second final last year so some familiar territory there," Jackson told NRL.com this week.
"I guess it's a little bit similar. It's good that the experience of last year and getting those tight wins probably helps, particularly with close games like that one on the weekend.
"It's a good time of year, there's definitely a buzz in the air and it's good to be a part of."
That Manly win last year featured three field goals, with halfback Trent Hodkinson edging the blue and whites ahead late in regular time before a last-gasp equaliser from Daly Cherry-Evans. Hodkinson then kicked his team ahead with a one-point match-winner in extra time.
With no Hodkinson this year, Reynolds is the man to lead the team around the park and grab the clutch plays, as he did against the Dragons in helping to set up a late try and booting the match-winning field goal.
"He is [a clutch player], he's really good to have in the team," Jackson said of Reynolds.
"Obviously Hokko's sorely missed. I don't know if there's any better than Hokko in those sort of situations but 'Grubby' has taken on that responsibility and he was really good for us on the weekend and I expect him to do the same this weekend."
Jackson added while the Bulldogs were disappointed with several aspects of their one-point win over the Dragons last week, their defence and the fact they found a way to win were positives.
"I think our game on the weekend was a little bit disappointing in the way that we played. We can definitely play better than that and we'll need to coming up against Roosters," he said.
"Our online 'D' was pretty good from us, we only gave away the one try and spent a fair bit of time there. In saying that it'd be good not to have to do it. If you give a quality team like the Roosters all that field position they'll hurt you so definitely a lot to work on."
He said the team didn't need to tweak too much ahead of this week's semi final clash.
"Probably just holding onto the ball is the biggest one, not giving away too much field position," he said.
"It takes a lot of gas out of you when you've got to defend back to back sets, particularly on your line. If we don't give the Roosters those sort of opportunities we'll have a bit more gas in the tank."
This article first appeared on NRL.com