Canterbury have the worst attack of any team in NRL history after three matches
Canterbury have the worst attack of any team in NRL history after three matches

Toothless Dogs set unwanted NRL record

The Bulldogs will have to shrug off the worst attacking start to a season of any team in NRL history if they're to pull off the upset against South Sydney on Good Friday.

After losing 32-16 to Newcastle in their season opener, Canterbury have been kept to nil each of the past two weeks - they've scored the fewest points through three games of any team in the NRL era.

The 2018 Eels and 2020 Titans both managed 18 points after three games but you have to go all the way back to the 1992 Sharks to find a team who only managed 16 in their opening three matches.

Watch The 2021 NRL Telstra Premiership Live & On-Demand with No Ad-Breaks During Play. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >

Fullback Corey Allan, who formed a major part of South Sydney's run to the preliminary final last year and made his Origin debut for Queensland, has especially underwhelmed in attack - the 22-year old is yet to record a try, try assist, linebreak or linebreak assist as a Bulldog.

Barrett has reacted by switching Allan to the wing for his first clash against his former with Nick Meaney moving to fullback as Canterbury look to avoid another unwelcome slice of history.

If they're held to zero again they'll join the 2014 Sharks as the only teams in premiership history to be kept scoreless three weeks in a row.

 

"Corey has a few things I want him to work on defensively and off the ball," Barrett said

"But our attack hasn't been functioning all year, we had some patches against Newcastle, but we needed to mix things up.

"It's more around what Nick bought to us at the back end of the game the other day, he's a good talker."

Barrett arrived at Canterbury with a reputation as an attacking guru after helping transform Penrith into one of the most dangerous teams in the competition last year.

But he's yet to find the same success with Allan, Jake Averillo and Kyle Flanagan as he did with Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary.

After three rounds the Bulldogs are dead last for run metres and tackle busts and equal last in line breaks.

 

Flanagan will have a new halves partner this week in Lachlan Lewis with Averillo out with an ankle injury.

"Lachie Lewis can do a job for us there, particularly with his kicking. We've struggled in that department, there's a fair bit of pressure on Kyle," Barrett said.

"Whenever you wear the number seven in any team there's going to be some scrutiny and a little bit of pressure, that's something Kyle is going to have to learn to deal with for the next ten years of his football career.

"It comes with the territory but we can help him. You saw there he was probably our best player against Newcastle in Round 1 when we got a bit of ball and an even share of possession."

 

While the Bulldogs spine has failed to set the world on fire in the early stages of the season it would be a mistake to pinpoint them as the sole cause for the blue and white's attacking struggles.

Canterbury's forward pack simply isn't giving them the room they need to be effective.

Only two Bulldogs forwards - prop Ofahiki Ogden in Round 1 and backrower Adam Elliott last week - have made more than 100 metres in a match all season.

Their three-quarter line - led by another new recruit in Nick Cotric - have been getting through plenty of work but just aren't being given any clean chances to finish.

"We're competing, but there's still things in there we need to fix. Competing and showing character alone doesn't win you games in the NRL," Barrett said.

"We're not building any pressure on any teams, not getting repeat sets and not being able to apply any pressure by scoring points. It wears you down at the back end of games and that's been happening to us.

"We can fix a few things, and they're subtle things, we don't need to reinvent the wheel but we need to be accountable for how we play as individuals and how we coach and how we prepare the team."

Originally published as Toothless Dogs set unwanted NRL record



LETTERS TO THE ED: Royal Commission into Defence suicides

Premium Content LETTERS TO THE ED: Royal Commission into Defence suicides

Harry Bruce’s cartoon of the day and readers have their say on current events.

Tears shed in decision whether to rename bridge after Rhys

Premium Content Tears shed in decision whether to rename bridge after Rhys

BIG READ: The Livingstone Shire mayor has brought forward a proposal from Rhys...

The mystery of Mt Morgan’s Digger’s missing medals

Premium Content The mystery of Mt Morgan’s Digger’s missing medals

Can you help researchers locate the descendants of Alexander Angus? And where on...