Family pain behind Reynolds' golden play
Bulldogs match-winner Josh Reynolds' 89th-minute try on Thursday night came at the end of a tough day in which he took time out to visit his cancer-stricken uncle, the playmaker revealed after the game.
While Reynolds was unsurprisingly humble in crediting his team's tireless forwards for the win, his determination to chase through on a Sam Perrett kick – which wrong-footed luckless Manly fullback Tom Trbojevic – was the mark of Reynolds' ultimate competitive spirit.
"It's been a pretty tough day. He hasn't been well for a while," Reynolds told journalists after the game.
"I was sort of put in the situation today (Thursday) where I didn't know what to do, whether to go and see him before the game or not because obviously the news isn't good. But I went to see him and I'm so glad I did."
Reynolds' uncle Matt is his mother's brother and Reynolds said his mum passed on a positive message from his visit.
"My mum said it did brighten him up a little bit – as far as it could – and gave him that little bit of satisfaction that I got to spend some time with him," Reynolds said.
"I just got a message from him [after the game] thanking me so much for putting in the effort.
"He's been a very special person. He's been a part of my life for a very long time. So it sucks sometimes but I'm so glad I got to do that for him… Hopefully that brought him the tiniest bit of cheer for tonight anyway."
Reynolds was unsure whether it was the best idea to make the trip on game day but said it was a weight off his shoulders to have made the visit.
"He said a couple of things to me that really helped me out. I love him so much.
"People say you play for them, and you really do. You don't think about them constantly but for something like that [the golden point try] to happen tonight, it's pretty special."
Reynolds' efforts also drew praise from two-try hero Brett Morris after the game.
"He's the ultimate competitor, 'Grub'. You look at that play there at the end, that was just chasing the kick and a lot of people don't notice that he does that week in week out," Morris said.
"He's the first one down there on the kick chases and he doesn't get a lot of recognition for it but obviously tonight he was the right man on the spot and scored the try and we were desperate for that win, as they were. It was just great to see Grubby get the reward for all the hard work he does that no one notices."
Reynolds though deflected the praise onto his forward pack and in particular tackling machines, hooker Michael Lichaa (58 tackles) and skipper James Graham (63 tackles).
"It's not just me [that loves the club] it's every bloke in there. Every person that's a part of our culture and part of the Bulldogs club knows what it's about and knows what they have to do to get us over the line," Reynolds said.
"Some of these big boys just never stop, they really don't. And that's where you can get teams in golden point I feel.
"Everyone wants to roll south for the big field goal but the forwards keep rolling, keep rolling to get us in a better position to take the field goal, or take the run.
"I've never seen the boys so exhausted as they were [Thursday night]. I really take my hat off to them. They are an unbelievable bunch of guys
"People will say I scored the last try but there's no way I deserve all the accolades because those boys are an unbelievable bunch.
"Lichaa was so off his feet he couldn't even get to hooker. That just shows how much effort he puts in. He just defends, defends, defends. And just the look in their eyes. They're never going to give up. The body is telling them to but the head is not.
"That's a trait you can't be taught."
Reynolds was at risk of being the villain rather than the hero when he was penalised for a push in the back of Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans that cost him a potential match-winning try earlier in golden point. But in a case of swings and roundabouts that seem so common in his career, that low was followed by a massive high.
"It's my life story isn't, it's my career. But I feel like I'm growing as a person and as a player," Reynolds said.
"Probably last year or the year before if that did happen to me I wouldn't be in that [final] play because I'd still be filthy about not getting that other try.
"I have been working on a fair few things and it's little things like that the great players can do, just forget about it and get on with their next job. In that sense I'm happy I did do that but I've still got a lot to work on in my game."