James Graham

With the spotlight no doubt centered around fullback Ben Barba, following his three-try performance in the win against the Cowboys – it was the collective effort of the Bulldogs team, that saw them win their ninth consecutive NRL game, at ANZ Stadium.

With the Dogs now sitting at the top of the ladder, four points clear of the rest of the pack – the man many believe will take out the Dally M Awards, admits that he is surprised at the form of his side.

“We had a new coach and a new bunch of blokes coming to the club and had to learn a new style.

“But it all comes down to hard work and us just enjoying our footy, and that’s what we are doing.

“We are working hard and not trying to think about where we are heading.

“With Des coming everyone was a bit nervous, no one was guaranteed a spot. I would like to think he has brought us a lot of belief.

With talk that they are the benchmark of the competition, Bulldogs coach Des Hasler refuses to buy into that hype at this point in time.

“When you come up against arguably an Australian frontrow, with one of the top three players in the world in Johnathan Thurston and Matt Bowen playing the best football he’s ever played, a State of Origin centre, Kane Linnett, I don’t know how we’re a benchmark,” Hasler said.

“My definition of a benchmark, I’ve always maintained, is side’s that have been there and done it. You can’t get carried away. We’ve just got to keep learning.”

That sentiment was disagreed with by Cowboys coach Neil Henry, who believes that the Dogs are the benchmark of this years competition.

“Well winning so many in a row they are and they’ve beaten everyone so they’ll be there, there’s no doubt,” Henry said.

By ricky

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