NRL salary cap affected us: Bulldogs coach

Canterbury coach Dean Pay has admitted the club's salary cap saga wrought a toll on the playing group after putting their month from hell behind them with a 36-16 NRL win over Newcastle on Saturday.

After losing their previous four and seven of their last eight, the Bulldogs' had descended into wooden spoon territory after being unsettled by their salary cap mess.

Many questioned how the players could keep their minds on the job with the spectre of receiving a tap on the shoulder from management hovering over them.

In the end, Aaron Woods and Moses Mbye were granted mid-season moves in an effort to free up salary cap space for next year.

The Dogs pulled their season out of a talespin with two points against an injury-affected Knights and Pay acknowledged the club's off-field worries had affected on-field performance in the last few months.

"You can say it doesn't affect you but it probably does to a certain degree," Pay said.

"We get on and prepare as best we can. That's what we need to do.

"What we did over the last two weeks was probably one of our better preparations. It showed out there tonight."

The Dogs' effort against the Knights was a huge improvement on their meek showing in their 32-10 defeat to the Gold Coast a fortnight ago.

Debutant playmaker Lachlan Lewis provided a bright spot plugging the hole left by Kieran Foran (foot) who is out for the season.

Lewis, the nephew of Immortal Wally Lewis, stood up to everything that was thrown at him by the Knights who set out to target him.

"He's a tough kid," Pay said.

"I think he made about 30 tackles. His nose is all over his face as well."

Following their embarrassment at the hand of the Titans, Pay admitted he saw the result coming as his team lacked energy on the training paddock in the week leading up.

He said there was no secret to their breakthrough win, they simply turned things around during their preparation.

"Last game, that just wasn't us," Pay said.

"And tonight we spoke about it, we prepared better and we played better. That was the bottom line."