Rugby League

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Streaking Dogs chase history in title pursuit

IF CANTERBURY do lose between now and the end of the regular season, it might be seen as the loss they had to have. If they keep winning, they may have to obliterate a long-standing record in order to claim the premiership on grand final day.

The most consecutive wins ever recorded on the way to a premiership was 12, a feat achieved by South Sydney, who won every match of the 1925 season.

It just so happens that the Bulldogs will be chasing their 12th victory on Friday night against Wests Tigers. If they keep winning, and claim a grand final victory on September 30 at ANZ Stadium, they will have won 17 matches consecutively - something which has never been done.

The fact remains: the Bulldogs don't look like losing, which is of course a major positive - but for the superstitious, potentially a negative. They were tested by Brisbane last Sunday but still prevailed, recording their 11th straight win.

They will close the regular season against the Tigers, Canberra and Sydney Roosters, all matches they will be expected to win. In the finals, they can afford to drop one game only, on the first weekend of the finals, before all matches become sudden death.

Of course, coach Des Hasler will not bother himself with such trivialities as having to re-write history. He will be confident that his team can keep winning, even though history has told us that sides that embark on such streaks so often lose momentum at the worst time.


Yet Hasler, in fact, is the centre of another hoodoo, one which the Bulldogs will have to overcome whether they win or lose their next three matches. No coach has ever changed clubs after winning a premiership, and won in his first season with his new club.

And there are others. Now four points clear of Melbourne, the club is likely to win the minor premiership, which puts them in the box seat to progress to the grand final. But minor premierships have not necessarily translated into major premierships at Belmore.

The last two occasions that the Bulldogs have won the minor premiership (1993 and 1994), they failed to go on and win the grand final. And the last four times the club has won the premiership (1985, 1988, 1995 and 2004), they have not been minor premiers. They last won the minor premiership and followed it up with success in the grand final in 1984.

Hasler has his players focused not on overcoming hoodoos but on the immediate future. Five-eighth Josh Reynolds, who will be a key player in the Bulldogs' run home, stressed yesterday that the players would not be getting carried away. Talk of minor premierships, and major premierships, and the continuation of streaks, is for others.

''It's obviously exciting but we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. There's still a few rounds to go before the finals,'' Reynolds said. ''We've got three pretty big games and we've got teams like the Tigers and Canberra who are trying to get into the eight … if we start thinking about finals now it would be our undoing.''

Others might think otherwise. Those who believe in the power of hoodoos might think that just continuing to win could be their undoing.