Dogs set sights on Belmore redemption
The humiliation of being kept scoreless against the Cowboys in Townsville five weeks ago is motivating the Bulldogs to bounce back and make a major statement at their traditional home in another Thursday night blockbuster.
Still stinging from a 20-10 loss to the Broncos that coach Des Hasler described as "inept", star centre Josh Morris said that the opportunity to play at a packed Belmore Sports Ground against the defending premiers who spanked them 36-0 a month ago could not have come at a better time.
With their top four aspirations dangling dangerously with two weeks left in the regular season, the Bulldogs have the opportunity to atone for another embarrassing defeat after the Raiders caused a Monday night boilover at Belmore in Round 5, running out comfortable 22-8 victors.
The only other time that Morris has played in a Bulldogs team that failed to register a single point in his 170 games for the club was a 38-0 drubbing by the Roosters in 2013 and he admitted that they are losses that he doesn't forget quickly.
"Obviously I haven't forgotten about what the Cowboys did to us up there," Morris told NRL.com.
"They made a statement against us that night and I'm sure the boys will remember that as well.
"For myself, I remember [such heavy losses] for the next couple of years.
"You use it as motivation to make sure that it doesn't happen again. Hopefully the boys feel the same way as I do.
"We never like losing and not scoring a try at all so hopefully the boys use that as some motivation and we can cut down those unforced errors.
"We need to perform really well. We know what happened last time when we didn't, we gave up too much ball and they made us pay.
"We've got to learn our lesson from [the Broncos loss] in that second half and make sure we're playing more like the first half than the second half."
Unlike Morris, fullback William Hopoate said that he tried to move on from the Townsville torment as quickly as possible and is eager to record his first win at Belmore following the loss to the Raiders in his first appearance at the ground earlier this year.
"It's a mental thing and you've got to flush it straight away," Hopoate said of the heavy loss to the Cowboys.
"We've moved on from it and we've got to bounce back. It's going to take a lot of resilience but we're up for it.
"Unfortunately we didn't get the result when we played [at Belmore] earlier this year against Canberra and we don't like to disappoint our fans and hopefully we get a win for them especially.
"The suburban grounds are awesome. They really bring a home feel and the crowd feels a lot closer.
"There may not be as many people as an ANZ [Stadium] or Suncorp but it just feels like it's a bit more compact and a bit more vocal.
"Hopefully a big crowd comes next week and we can get a win for them."
Against the Cowboys in Round 20 the kicking games of Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan and Lachlan Coote put Hopoate under immense pressure, the Bulldogs fullback coming up with two errors and three missed tackles.
Canterbury will be bolstered by the return from a neck injury of Sam Perrett on the right wing and Hopoate said the back three will have a big role to play if the Bulldogs are to get the win that would all but secure a top four finish.
"'JT' has one of the best kicking games in the competition and last time we played them he had the ball on a string," Hopoate recalled.
"The back three are going to have to be on our toes and catch everything we can on the full."