Bulldogs second-rower Rhyse Martin could barely break a smile even though he produced a mammoth 24-point effort in Canterbury's 32-28 loss to the Raiders at Belmore Oval on Saturday night.
Martin was a busy man – and an accurate one – as he not only scored a hat-trick, he kicked all six goals, from four conversions and two penalties.
He became the NRL's first player to score that many points in a losing side.
"It’s always good to score a few tries. But not coming away with the win makes it hard. I'm trying to be positive, but it's hard," he said.
The 25-year-old former Sydney Roosters under 20s captain was dangerous on the left edge, mostly because of his intuitive support play. When one of the Morris twins – winger Brett or centre Josh - was making a break, Martin was right alongside them.
He was also on the spot if five-eighth Lachlan Lewis was looking for the short pass.
"I had the energy and I was in the right spot at the right time. Sometimes it just happens with the luck of the bounce … the second one [try] just popped up straight into my hands," the Kumuls international said.
Match Highlights: Bulldogs v Raiders - Round 17, 2018
"But it can go the other way, you just never know. This time it went my way."
A Josh Morris pass to Martin for his third try was a superb one-handed flick.
"I was pretty lucky. I caught it on my hip and it just stuck," Martin said. "Josh was pretty excited about it."
Being a try-scoring forward is nothing new to the Martin repertoire. Playing two years in the Intrust Super Cup for the Townsville Blackhawks, where he was named 2016 player of the year, he scored four against the Central Queensland Capras in 2015 and then a hat-trick the following year.
So that's the last time he scored a hat-trick before Saturday night. The last time he missed a goal was far more recently.
"I missed one in the warm-up actually. It's easy to focus when you're in the game. I’ve been pretty good, pretty consistent with my strikes so I'm happy about that."
He's may be not so cheerful knowing next weekend the Bulldogs play the Rabbitohs and he should be marking up against NSW forward Angus Crichton. The pair did not meet in South Sydney's 20-16 round-four win as Martin did not make his Telstra Premiership debut until round nine.
"He's a very good back-rower, strong and physical, and one of the key players at the Rabbitohs," Martin said.
"Their shape is built around what he's good at, so I'm going to have to be strong defensively – I’ve been working hard on that."
At least the Bulldogs are scoring points. They piled on 36 against Newcastle last round and 28 against the Raiders, when attack had not been a mainstay of the first half of their NRL campaign.
"Our attack has just simplified," Martin said.
Martin makes it a hat-trick
"We’re getting our runners to run simple lines, so the defence is going to have to be really good to stop us. That’s what we’re trying to focus on.
"We just want to keep it simple so if someone is running a genuine hard line, someone is going to have to get in front.
"So we're pulling out of their defensive line and forcing them to make decisions. That’s what we’re trying to do…. get one-on-ones out wide with the boys and their pace. I think we got them [Raiders] like that a few times."