The Bulldogs have farewelled a cohort of departing players in style, thrashing a sorry Wests Tigers outfit 38-0 in the final game of the regular season.
Storm-bound fullback Nick Meaney was superb in his final game in blue and white while long-serving centre Will Hopoate finished his Belmore career on a high, along with Dylan Napa and Sione Katoa.
Coach Trent Barrett was delighted the outgoing players got to finish on a positive note and praised the entire squad for maintaining their efforts despite knowing many of them would not be around next year.
"It says a lot about the club and players that we've known we couldn't make the semis for a long time, they've known we've got up to 12 or 14 players that aren't going to be here but they kept turning up," he said.
Match: Wests Tigers v Bulldogs
Round 25 -
Venue: Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe
"That's the thing I'm most proud of. It's been difficult up here being on our own for two months. Blokes knowing that they're not around next year. I'll be forever grateful to them for the effort they put in and they kept trying.
"It's been a hard year. It means a lot, it can spring board us into our pre-season next year. It was great it meant enough to them to send some players off on a really good note.
"I just want them to get used to winning again. We've been in a hole for two or three years and you forget how to win. We’ve got some young blokes in there that I don't want them to forget what that feels like."
Nofoaluma spills a bomb and Jack Hetherington gets a try
The horror afternoon for the Tigers was compounded by possibly serious injuries to Tommy Talau, who limped off in the first half with a suspected ACL injury that would delay his start 2022 season if confirmed while Jake Simpkin came off early in the second half with a possible shoulder dislocation.
Injuries aside, the team looked clueless in attack and threw next to nothing at the admittedly staunch Bulldogs defence in what was the lowest point of a forgettable season.
What the Dogs lacked in creativity they more than made up for in effort and physicality, cashing in on the plentiful Tigers mistakes in racking up their biggest score and win of the season.
The Bulldogs have made a habit of completing well but still struggling to score points but they flipped the script to start round 25, making a stack of unforced errors early in the game yet taking a 16-0 lead into half-time.
Those errors put them under a heap of early pressure but they turned away a glut of repeat sets on their own line and went down the other end and scored easily as Meaney ran over the top of Luke Brooks in the 10th minute.
Averillo has a double from some ad-lib footy
When Stand-in fullback Zac Cini dropped a bomb at his own line from the following set, Jake Averillo scooped up the loose ball to make it 10-0.
Aaron Schoupp very nearly extended the lead soon after but couldn't quite ground an Averillo grubber that was a touch too heavy.
Talau's 18th-minute injury forced a reshuffle, with Cini going to the wing, David Nofoaluma to fullback and Luciano Leilua to centre.
Nofoaluma's difficulty cleaning up a grubber gave the Dogs another attacking set around the half-hour mark with Meaney cutting through out wide.
An awful mix-up under a high ball between Cini and Nofoaluma handed the Dogs another simple try, with Hetherington unable to believe his luck as he planted down the first try of his NRL career.
Leilua was sin-binned for being offside on the back of multiple similar infringements in the 66th minute with Brandon Wakeham's long ball putting Corey Allan over untouched moments later.
Shawn Blore joined Leilua in the bin for late contact on Katoa that also left him on report, with Averillo quickly crossing against the 11-man defensive line and Hopoate kicking the first goal of his career to ice the win.