Dogs of war to bank on gritty NRL defence

·2-min read

Canterbury want to be like the Bulldogs of old, able to consistently bank on gritty defence, after finally taking some pressure off coach Trent Barrett.

Saturday's win over the Sydney Roosters marked the Bulldogs' first victory over one of the NRL's big guns since the end of 2020, and just the eighth against any team in three seasons.

But it's the way Barrett's men snapped their six-game losing streak that has pleased Canterbury from the 16-12 win.

After leaking points for the past month, the Bulldogs managed to hold their own line intact in the final 20 minutes as the Roosters had more than 90 per cent of the ball in their half.

The 12 points they conceded was their equal-fourth best return under Barrett, with their scramble defence crucial at the end.

The Dogs are adamant their attack still has plenty of improvement in it, with combinations beginning to settle amid the raft of new faces in 2022.

But until it clicks properly Canterbury know they must be willing to scrap their way to victory.

"It's no secret that you build your games off defence," prop Paul Vaughan said.

"It's an attitude thing. You have to come to the game and want to do it. That will take a lot of pressure off the attack.

"Holding the Roosters to 12 was a great outcome for us on the weekend.

"That's one of the biggest aspects, build that defence and hold teams to below 16. That goes a long way towards winning the game."

In another boost for the Bulldogs, Canterbury are confident that they will have captain Josh Jackson back from COVID-19 to face besieged Canberra on Friday.

But time on the field together for their spine is what remains most important.

The Bulldogs are confident their attack is beginning to feel smoother with Kyle Flanagan at halfback after he was reinstated to partner Matt Burton for the last four matches.

While two of their three tries on Saturday came from unstructured play, Canterbury were able to better control of the game.

Josh Addo-Carr on Monday praised Burton's kicking game as off the charts, with his booming 40-20 late one of the biggest plays of round eight.

"I feel like ever since Flanno has come into the team Burto has come to life," Addo-Carr said.

"We start the game really well but I think our second halves could be better.

"We only scored one try in the second half. If we can score more points in the second half we will be even harder team to beat.

"We're (getting there) slowly and getting in the right direction."

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