Pay says Dogs rebuild on track

Canterbury coach Dean Pay says his side's rebuild is on track following their upset 20-14 NRL win over Newcastle on Friday night.

Bulldogs coach DEAN PAY
Bulldogs coach DEAN PAY Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Canterbury coach Dean Pay has urged the club to stay the course, pointing to their spirited 20-14 NRL win over Newcastle as proof that his rebuild is showing green shoots.

The Bulldogs recorded back-to-back wins for the first time this season and signalled they were set to rattle a few cages in the final eight rounds with the upset victory at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Pay's side are well out of finals contention but did move above the Gold Coast, following the Titans' loss to Penrith two hours earlier on Friday night, to lift themselves off the bottom of the ladder.

All year, it has been speculated that Pay's position was under threat, despite being on contract for 2020, and the board would look in another direction following a couple of lean years.

For months, Pay has insisted that his side didn't lack heart but was in need of confidence and experience.

And after upsetting Cronulla during their last start, they now have something to build on.

Fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak showed signs of being a shrewd mid-season pick up, playing a leading hand with 186 run metres.

Even without injured playmaker Kieran Foran (hamstring), they still ran down the Knights, scoring 20 points in 14 minutes including two key tries after the Knights were reduced to 12 men.

Pay pointed to back-up halves Brandon Wakeham, 20, and Jack Cogger, 21, as proof they were heading in the right direction.

"Those two kids, they're the youngest halves pairing in the competition this weekend," Pay said.

"They've done a really great job for us. Wakeham, that's his second game for us.

"We keep talking about putting some time into our kids and giving them more freedom, they're coming up.

"We just need to keep going with them and they're getting better all the time. Dallin helped them a lot."

The Dogs lost prop Aiden Tolman in the 19th minute to a rib injury and he was replaced by Jesse Sue.

Only to lose Sue to a suspected torn ACL just eight minutes later but still found enough to run over the top of the Knights in the final 20.

"Losing Tols and Sue, they both play really big minutes," Pay said.

"What Dylan (Napa) did and all the rest (of the middle players), Adam Elliott, Chris Smith, (Michael) Lichaa, Jeremy Marshall-King, they combined well when they were on the field together. They all contributed a lot."


AAP