The 2018 NRL season saw a combination of some frustrating losses complemented by a strong finish to the campaign that gave great hope for the future with the emergence of some promising young talent.
The major additions of Aaron Woods and Kieran Foran to the Bulldogs side offered great interest moving into the season, but a series of early losses by close margins meant that the team were always fighting to break into the semi-final race.
At this stage two major decisions were taken to allow Mbye (Tigers) and Woods (Sharks) to move on to other clubs as part of a strategy to create more flexibility around the salary cap moving forward.
This also created a number of opportunities for younger players to make a step up to senior level, resulting in Lachlan Lewis, Rhyse Martin, Ofahiki Ogden, Renouf To'omaga all making their NRL debuts, while Clay Priest, Nu Brown, John Olive, Chris Smith and Jeremy Marshall-King started for the first time in the top grade for the Bulldogs.
This seemed to free the team up to play its best football of the season, winning four of the last six matches to finish the year on a high note.
A final position of 12th on the ladder seemed like a case of what could have been had some of those close losses been turned into victories.
David Klemmer led by example on the field running for 3980 metres for the season at an average of 181m Per game. His season included being part of a winning Australian World Cup side and a successful Blues State of Origin campaign and he was named the Bulldogs Player of the Year at the club Presentation Night.
New skipper Josh Jackson was at his consistent best throughout the season, averaging 34.6 tackles per game and picking up the Bulldogs Coaches Award for his efforts.
Of the younger players Lachlan Lewis showed outstanding composure after coming into the side for the Round 16 clash with Newcastle, while Rhyse Martin impressed everyone with his skills and goal kicking, finishing the year with 36 goals from 38 attempts.
It was also a sad time as the club said goodbye to a number of players. Clay Priest and Asipeli Fine, had both contributed in First grade throughout the season, while Matt Frawley and Brett Morris were to move on after both spending four years with the club.
It was also farewell to hard running forward Greg Eastwood who had put so much into his time at Belmore during his nine years with the club.
Then there was Josh Morris. A ten year career with any club shows both consistency and loyalty and J-Moz was one of the best centres in the League during that period. It was fitting that he registered 100 tries for the Bulldogs during the season to join an elite list.
With Sauaso Sue, Nick Meaney, Jack Cogger, Christian Crichton and Corey Harawira-Naera joining the club next season it is a time to look to the future and new beginnings.