Dean Pay urges club to stay the course after Dogs' shock win
CANTERBURY coach Dean Pay has urged the club to stay the course, pointing to their spirited 20-14 NRL win over Newcastle on Friday night as proof 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 moved above 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 Pay's position is under threat, despite him being on contract for 2020, and that the board will look in another direction following a couple of lean years.
For months, Pay has insisted his side doesn't lack heart but is in need of confidence and experience.
And after upsetting Cronulla in their previous start, the Bulldogs 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, who suffered a suspected torn ACL just eight minutes later.
"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."