Dogs desperate to correct Belmore record
Despite starting with a bang, Canterbury's "Back to Belmore" efforts over the past two years haven't panned out the way the players want – and it's something they're desperate to correct against the Cowboys this Thursday.
The Bulldogs didn’t play a home game at their spiritual ground for 17 years between 1998 and 2015 – long enough that a big chunk of the modern supporter base would never have had a chance to watch footy there.
Their long-awaited return in Round 16 last year was explosive; a massive 16,764-strong crowd packed the joint despite the Monday night billing and the players repaid them by monstering a very good Melbourne team in the opening salvos.
David Klemmer racked up 100 metres in the first 20 minutes winding up off the back fence, his fellow big men all ran riot and the Dogs blew out to a 20-0 lead before the Storm clawed back a late try.
Things haven't gone Canterbury's way since though; they were upset 18-16 by the Sharks a month later on a Sunday afternoon then earlier this year Canberra ambushed them 22-8 back in Round 5.
While the Dogs will openly be searching for redemption after being towelled up by the Cowboys in Townsville five weeks ago, their less-than-stellar recent record at Belmore is also on their minds.
"We haven't had the best record here which has been disappointing for the fans," centre Josh Morris admitted this week from Dogs training at the historic ground.
"We're looking to turn that around on Thursday. We love playing here, the fans get out here and get the drums going early and if we could play every home game here I'd love to.
"We played Canberra here, they came down and ambushed us. We don't want that to happen again on Thursday."
Morris outlined some of the factors that can potentially make Belmore such a tough place for visiting teams.
"It's very hostile. The team getting off the bus, you see it on TV after the game, they get hammered by the fans then when they run out you hear the drums going and the chants going, it gets you excited to play footy," Morris said.
"That's the good thing about suburban grounds, you can fit 18,000 in here but it sounds like it's 40,000. Hopefully we get lots of fans out here and as I said it can be a high quality game of football."
Morris said he relished the "awesome" atmosphere in the Storm game last year, which he played in.
"Since then I don't think we've had the wins here so we've let the fans down on that end. Hopefully on Thursday we put in a good performance and get the win for them."
Penrith-bound prop Tim Browne was also relishing the chance to play what will be his last home game at the venue before joining the Panthers next season.
"It's awesome here, you get 10,000 and it feels like a packed ANZ. And obviously we train here and do everything week in week out so it feels like home," Browne said.
"[It's important] just for our confidence as well heading into the finals. We haven't hit our top form but we're still winning games so it'd be good to get one back. They put one on us up there so we're definitely looking for a get square."
Browne was looking to finish his career in blue and white on a high before moving on to the next chapter.
"We got so close [to winning a premiership] a couple of years ago against Souths (in 2014) and to go one further would be cool," Browne said.
"It is [difficult to leave] because it's such a home here. It's a great club, I've got a lot of good mates here, I'm definitely going to miss it but at the same time it's a good opportunity, a new chapter, I've been here for a while now so definitely embracing it."