Season 2017 has largely been a disappointing one at Belmore, but one team is still well and truly alive in the title race – and the Intrust Super Premiership NSW Bulldogs are happy to fly the flag for the proud club.
The Bulldogs, who sit 13th in the Telstra Premiership, 14th in the Holden Cup and are out of finals contention for both, have experienced vastly different success in the state-based competition, yesterday consolidating their position in the top four with a 54-26 win over Newtown. Speaking after the victory, fill-in fullback Tom Carr told of a good feeling among the camp.
“It was a good win, we knew we had to get one heading into the bye,” Carr told NSWRL.com.au. “To get an extra two points for next week, we should hopefully stay in the top four and maybe come to third or something like that.
“Our last 11 games we’ve had one loss and two draws I think, the rest were wins so our team’s coming together good. These guys are coming in and jumping in positions they’re not used to.
“We still have a good combination there, so the boys are starting to gel.”
The biggest criticism of Canterbury-Bankstown has been their attack this season – they sit last in that category in the NRL – and after a slow start, points are beginning to flow in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW. Yesterday marked the first time since 6 June, 2015 that the side had posted 50 points in that competition, but Carr believes momentary lapses in concentration will be a focus moving forward.
“It’s happened the last few weeks with (Blacktown, Round 20) – they got three or four tries in the last few minutes. We’ve got to stop that,” Carr said. “Our fitness is there but just the change of momentum really gets us.
“Obviously it’s hard to turn that around but we did that today and I reckon that’s a turning point for the next few games.”
As the only Bulldogs side to secure a finals spot in 2017, Carr knows many fans will turn to the Intrust Super Premiership NSW for a taste of September football. The unusual absence of Canterbury-Bankstown from the NRL Finals will help his own team’s premiership hopes, but he’s backing a strong finish to the club in the top grade.
“With some other teams that have guys getting injured in the top grade and people going up, that’s an extra advantage for us and it’s good to have,” Carr added. “They (the NRL side) still have a few games to go so they have some respect to gain, obviously coming 13th.
“We’re going to do the best we can and hopefully send guys that are going back up with winning spirits.”
Carr has been in fine form since returning from the Ron Massey Cup in Round 18, most recently taking the no.1 jersey as a replacement for the injured Brad Abbey. While Abbey’s return date is unclear, things are building nicely – and all is not lost for the blue-and-whites in 2017.