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Coach commends tough, gritty effort

COACH Cameron Ciraldo had plenty of praise for the Bulldogs’ “really tough and gritty” performance in their opening round 26-8 loss to Parramatta, saying it was the number of errors and penalties that “killed” them. THE Bulldogs have gone down to the Eels 26-8 on Saturday evening at CommBank Stadium with Canterbury-Bankstown winger Josh Addo-Carr suffering a shoulder injury.
There’s been plenty of excitement around Bulldogs new left-edge pairing of NSW Origin duo Stephen Crichton and Addo-Carr but fans were left disappointed to see the star winger ruled out with a shoulder injury at halftime.
Kept scoreless at half time, the Bulldogs fought their way back to a 12-point deficit with 10 minutes to play but in the end the Eels were rewarded for their discipline, having completed at 86 per cent and finishing with just five errors to their opponents’ 13.
Bulldogs recruit Jaeman Salmon was penalised for a high shot in the 26th minute before the Eels took an 8-0 lead.
With no sign of star winger Josh Addo-Carr after the break and two early penalties, the Bulldogs found themselves on the back foot again and they were soon down 20-0.
However shortly after the Bulldogs were right in the fight again with former Panthers duo Viliame Kikau and Stephen Crichton combining on the left edge to reduce the deficit 20-8.
But with less than four minutes on the clock, the Eels sealed the deal with a lucky try.
Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo said he couldn’t be prouder.
“I thought we were really tough and gritty. In the first half, we had 60, 70 per cent of possession against us and I thought we handled it brilliantly,” he said.
“We killed ourselves at times with errors … but we’re always going to be a little bit clunky in attack to start the season with a new team and new systems.”
The Bulldogs next do battle against Cronulla at Shark Park from 6pm on Friday night.
Other results: Knock On Effect NSW Cup, Bulldogs d Eels 38-36; Jersey Flegg Cup, Bulldogs d Eels 30-6; UNE Harold Matthews Cup, Bulldogs d Sharks 48-12; UNE SG Ball Cup, Bulldogs d Sharks 50-18; Westpac Tarsha Gale Cup (womens), Manly d Bulldogs, 20-18; and Westpac Lisa Fiaola Cup (womens), Bulldogs d Manly, 94-0.