Adversity is not something the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs are known for shying away from – and Sunday's win with just 13 men showed the qualities the club has been trying to foster.
With Jack Nelson, Lachlan Burr and Mason Cerruto all injured throughout the course of the game, a depleted Bulldogs outfit was asked to grind out a result over the Knights at North Sydney Oval. Speaking after the 22-12 victory, captain Lachlan Lewis believed the performance was proud of the effort.
"It was a sloppy one," Lewis told NSWRL.com.au. "We had plenty of injuries, we had no reserves left at the end of it, so we ground our way there.
"(That sort of performance) builds up a team, you know? We've gone through a bit of turmoil and a bit of adversity the last few weeks trying to get our structures right.
"To grind teams and have a high completion rate like we did today is phenomenal."
The club's sixth win of the season followed two narrow results at Belmore Sports Ground; Canterbury-Bankstown defeated Wentworthville by one point in Round 9, before losing to St George Illawarra by the same margin a week later. Based on his side's strength last season – in which they fell one game short of the decider – Lewis knew they could be better.
"We lost last week by one point and we won the week before by one point and we shouldn't have been in those situations," Lewis admitted. "We hold ourselves a lot higher than that and we want to get better wins than that.
"Last year we grew phenomenally. We got some combinations and 'Joshy' Cleeland and a few of the boys worked together last year – we kind of developed each other's games.
"That's getting called upon now, we started this season much better than last."
Lewis, a regular playmaker, has found himself in the centres for much of 2018 due to a recent influx of hookers in the side, which has forced Fa'amanu Brown into the halves. While the nephew of Immortal Wally Lewis is most comfortable in the middle of the field, he's warming to the task out wide.
"I did a bit (of centre) in the pre-season, obviously the roster spots are flooded with hookers and halves at the moment," Lewis said. "It's what's best for the team and it's quite enjoyable, I get plenty of carries up, I get the ball in my hands. It's not too bad."
Having toppled the now-12th-placed Knights in Round 11, the Bulldogs will next face a similarly desperate outfit in the Wyong Roos. Their Round 12 match takes place at Central Coast Stadium from 12.45pm on Saturday, to be broadcast live on Fox League.