The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have capitulated in a dismal 40-4 loss to their old foe St George-Illawarra at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium and many fans have taken to social media to make their feelings known.
It was a nightmare performance from the blue and white, on a day where they were out muscled and out played by a committed and well organised Dragons team. It was tough to find a polished performance in the Canterbury side, with Rhyse Martin, Will Hopoate and Kerrod Holland all having days to forget.
Perhaps Jack Cogger and Nick Meaney could hold their heads high in the backs and Jeremy Marshall-King and Ofahiki Ogden gave their all in the centre of the field; a space that the home side dominated.
Adam Elliott added some much needed energy from the bench yet the day was an overall disaster for the Bulldogs, with their disconnected attack and atrocious reads in defence failing to stand up to the test that the Dragons set for them.
The fans were livid; frustrated with a return to the inept displays of the opening two weeks. The 18-16 loss to the Melbourne Storm in Round 4 loomed as a turning point in the season yet Sunday afternoon at Kogarah was potentially the teams weakest performance thus far.
Some have called for Dean Pay’s head, others are alluding to a performance lacking in heart and commitment, whilst some focus more on the individual performances of players and call for changes in the team.
In reality and despite over some stated pre-season expectations, what we are seeing is typical of a young team. Inconsistency in performance is a hallmark of youthful squads and the Bulldogs will ride that roller-coaster for the entire season.
The lack of experience in the squad is not of Dean Pay’s making, nor is it the fault of the new administration. The club had its heart and soul torn from the carcass thanks to a series of poor recruitment and retention decisions made by the previous board and coach.
The departures of Dale Finucane, Tim Lafai, Shaun Lane, James Graham and Damien Cook were foolish decisions, as was the recruitment of Tony Williams and Aaron Woods.
The depths of the salary cap mismanagement overseen by the Manly influences that arrived at the club in 2012 has now come into full light. That ineptitude led to a series of necessary and painful decisions.
Josh Reynolds took a lucrative offer with the Tigers, Moses Mbye joined him and Josh and Brett Morris ventured off to clubs expert in salary cap management.
With little money to spend and slim pickings available, the club did well to secure the services of new players Jack Cogger, Nick Meaney and Corey Harawira-Naera. They have all impressed thus far in 2019.
However, the squad lacks depth and when somewhere near $1.6 million dollars worth of talent is parked on the bench after injuries in the opening weeks of the season, that depth is tested further.
Social media suggests that many fans have had enough. Personally, along with some more wins, I feel there will be a few more tough days ahead this season and semi-final play looks a long way off.
Most important will be the support the team receives going forward. It all starts in the traditional Good Friday clash with the Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium on Friday.
Rather than tear each other to pieces, let’s hope the Bulldogs’ faithful get out to Homebush and inspire the team to a much improved performance. A bounce back win would say a lot about the character of the squad.
For now, it is time to lick some wounds and work out exactly what went wrong against the Dragons. It will be a long review/video session and Dean Pay may well have little voice left at the end of it.
Canterbury-Bankstwon Bulldogs 4 St George-Illawarra Dragons 40