Bumbling Bulldogs backs take blame
Two of the Bulldogs' most accomplished players have put their hands up and admitted that it was the poor ball control from the outside backs that contributed to Canterbury's 20-10 defeat to the Broncos on Thursday night.
In what was a tight contest for the first 40 minutes the only statistic where the Broncos had a decided edge at full-time was the error count where they handed the ball over on only seven occasions compared to Canterbury's 16.
A large number of the Bulldogs errors came inside their own half with unnecessary passes being pushed under defensive pressure and the vast majority at the hands of the outside backs.
Curtis Rona and Kerrod Holland each had three handling errors while Josh Reynolds was the only member of the backline not to make at least one blunder with ball in hand.
While the Bulldogs forwards may have appeared to have been losing the battle in the middle, Origin and Test centre Josh Morris pointed the finger very much at himself and the rest of the three-quarter line's 13 errors for the team's problems.
"I thought it was pretty even in that first half but with the errors in the second half we were forced to make too many tackles and they came out stronger in that second half on the back of us making too many tackles," said Morris, who was guilty of making a first-half error.
"You can't fault our forwards, they do a good job week in and week out but I think it was the outside backs tonight that let the team down.
"We were responsible for a lot of those unforced errors so that needs to be addressed and we need to make sure that we're not making those errors next week.
"We probably took some poor options there and created some unforced errors and that's what happens sometimes when you chase points.
"That's definitely what happened in that second half I think.
"It was definitely self-inflicted and they made us pay."
Fullback William Hopoate made two of the team's 13 errors in the second half – including one when the Bulldogs were in an excellent attacking position – and said their lack of respect for possession has to change in the next fortnight heading into the finals series.
"You can't afford to turn over the pill. It's such a crucial part of the game and if we can complete a lot of sets it gives us a better chance of winning a game," Hopoate told NRL.com.
"It's the unforced errors that are killing us. I had a few there tonight so it's something I need to fix up too.
"If you look at our errors a lot of them were unforced and that's just really going back to the basics.
"Des has drilled it into us for the last month or so and hopefully we learn from tonight that we just can't do that, especially against teams like Brisbane and heading into the finals."
Morris was in no doubt that coach Des Hasler would have taken a dim view of the handling by his outside backs on Thursday night and there will be ramifications when they begin preparing for the Cowboys at Belmore next Thursday.
"He's going to be pretty disappointed," was Morris's assessment.
"The outside backs were probably the main cause of the errors so I dare say we'll be getting a rocket during the week and we've got to respond.
"We've just got to get in our heads to hold the ball no matter what stage of the game we're at. Just hold the ball until we get up the other end and play some footy when we get down there.
"We managed to get some repeat sets there and build some pressure but then came up with an error and found ourselves on our own try-line.
"We were right in the game and we knew that, we knew we had to complete and keep the same standards but we just didn't do that."