NRL 2 years ago

Broncos bully Bulldogs

  • Broncos bully Bulldogs

 

If that is the benchmark then the Canterbury Bulldogs have some work to do in the final 8 weeks of regular season competition to be anywhere near the level needed to be to challenge for the championship.

In  thunderous, sodden, wet weather conditions, the Broncos wrote a "how to" guide on playing grinding winning football despite having four players backing up from a victorious State of Origin 3 decider.

The Bulldogs also had 4 backing up with coach Des Hasler voluntarily choosing to rest NSW half back Trent Hodkinson.

 On the surface that seemed like a great idea, after all, the much maligned play maker has endured endless criticism from all and sundry on his form and selection for the NSW Blues.  

Hodkinson recently signed a lucrative 3 year deal with the Knights and last night with Moses Mbye and Josh Reynolds the 2016 likely pairing. If what we saw last night was a precursor for next season then the pair have so much work to do.  

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The general kicking out of the hand was below par particularly from Mbye and the goal kicking was sub standard and proved costly.

In short, Hodkinson's kicking game and cool head leading the side around the park was sorely missed.

This loss against the table toppling Broncos could prove a critical point in the season, one where they now know where they stand and what they need to do to improve and progress towards another finals campaign.

First, the positives and there are a few.  James Graham returned from a lengthy stint on the sidelines where he completed his first full game since the infamous match against the Bunnies earlier this year. 

 He looked short of a gallop and his timing was off in attack but the gains will be  evident in the weeks to come when he gets back to match fitness and his influence materialises.

State of Origin is over, 5 players selected by the Blues disrupting 6 weeks of club footy culminating in a demolition job delivered by the Maroons in a crushing defeat. 

The after effects of the embarrassing defeat encountered by the likes of the Morris twins, Dave Klemmer and Josh Jackson seemed to spill into the Dogs insipid performance.  

No more Origin to worry about, next week on-wards the players can focus all their attention to the Dogs finals charge.

Dropping so much ball in last nights match against the benchmark Broncos and only losing by 8 points, two tries to three, defending long periods on the goal line and repelling waves of attack should bode well going forward. 

The drop balls and decision making on attack are easy fixes.

Now for the negatives. 

Getting owned in the middle third when you have weary origin players backing up for the opposition and those same players having a big influence is unforgivable.  

Given the fact that Sam Thaiday (backing up) is usually a back rower and Adam Blair (top 5 worst players in the NRL) is usually in the backrow too and for them to run amok and lay the platform with Corey Parker (backing up) set up the win for the visitors.

Too many players had their worst showing for the blue and whites, player such as Brett Morris, Michael Lichaa, Curtis Rona, Tim Lafai and Greg Eastwood just to name a few.  

If half your team are individually below par, there is no way in the world you are going to beat a side like the Broncos, in fact, very lucky to lose by only 8.

The kicking game was reserve grade like, actually more like park footy.  Mbye struggled with long kicking and more or less just gifted the ball back to the receptive Broncos in great field position throughout the match.  

The Dogs got one repeat set and they had to wait 78 minutes and it was delivered by Sam Kasiano, yes the prop! 

That right there shows you how bad the halves kicking games were last night.

Can they turn this lesson into a positive?

Yes

Do I still think the Bulldogs have the roster and talent to win the Premiership in 2015?

Hell yes!

I will outline this in my next blog.

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