NRL 2019: Canterbury Bulldogs on track after comeback win over Newcastle

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 signaled 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, after the Titans' loss to Penrith two hours earlier, to lift themselves off the bottom of the ladder.

All year, Pay's position was seemed under threat, despite being on contract for 2020, and the board would look in another direction after a couple of lean years.

For months, Pay insisted that his side didn't lack heart, but needed confidence and experience.

After upsetting Cronulla in 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.

Then they lost Sue to a suspected torn ACL just eight minutes late,r 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."


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