So close, yet so far.
That was the message Bulldogs coach Dean Pay delivered to his players after their 12-10 defeat by Canberra at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
Canterbury fought their way back into the game after halftime through tries to halfback Jack Cogger and centre Marcelo Montoya to level the scores at 10-all before Raiders captain Jarrod Croker regained the lead with a 70th minute penalty goal.
If the Bulldogs hadn’t committed six first-half errors they may have been in a better position to claim their fourth win of the season.
Winger Christian Crichton was twice denied tryscoring chances in the opening stages of the second half and the way Canterbury lost the game was cruel after an attempted one-on-one strip by Adam Elliott went wrong when prop Ofahiki Ogden joined the tackle late.
Match Highlights: Bulldogs v Raiders
“We are a really young team and we have just got the keep developing and keep learning,” Pay said. “We need to keep doing what we are doing and executing the way we executed when we did score those couple of tries.
“I think Christian Crichton got over the line three or four times. We can’t get the ball down. There’s more opportunities there, we are just not taking them as much as we should. I thought we had a lot of momentum and were coming to get them.”
Cogger gets through on the right
Pay said the players were disappointed to lose in such circumstances but he couldn’t fault their effort.
That effort was typified by Sauaso Sue's gut busting chase on a tearaway Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad late in the match when the Raiders No.1 seemed certain to score.
With Cogger running 114 metres with the ball and five-eighth Kieran Foran running 116 metres, the entire Canterbury backline carried the ball for more than 100 metres.
Hooker Jeremy Marshall-King made a game high 52 tackles.
“They’re devastated, they don’t want to be where we are and they are working as hard as we can to get off the bottom of the ladder but with what we’ve got, and we’re young and we are still developing in our footy, we need to get some more consistency with what we are doing,” Pay said.
“The boys fought really hard to get back into the game and give ourselves an opportunity to win the game but we just couldn’t get it done in the finish. When we put our good footy together we can challenge teams but we are not doing that enough.
“We just need to keep at it, keep developing and it will turn, we will get a couple of results that we are looking for.”