Canterbury might have avoided having the worst pointscoring drought in NRL history, but they could not dodge slumping to their fifth straight defeat to open the season.
A Luke Thompson try in the 22nd minute of Saturday’s clash against Melbourne finally ended a painful 265-minute wait for Bulldogs fans to have something to cheer about in what has been a harrowing start to the year.
They even managed to post two more in the second half, eclipsing their total 16 points for the season – all scored in their round-one loss to Newcastle.
However, it was little consolation as the reigning NRL premiers still managed to put the cleaners through Canterbury 52-18, consigning Trent Barrett’s side to the bottom of the table.
Should North Queensland upset the Wests Tigers and join first-time winners Manly on Sunday, the Bulldogs will be the only side yet to win so far this season.
Their 0-5 start is the club’s worst since 1964.
And they finished that season with the wooden spoon.
At least they side-stepped their way from becoming the first team in history to go more than 321 minutes without scoring – a mark set by Cronulla in 2014.
Still, Canterbury’s sorry defending overshadowed the ruthlessness of the Storm, who poured on nine tries on their way to their biggest score of the season.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy was unhappy with parts of their defence, but, with hooker Harry Grant playing his first game for the club since his return from loan, liked their chemistry in attack.
“Some of our shapes we ran tonight, they’re nothing no one else is running either, but our execution and timing was better,” Bellamy said.
“We’re slowly but surely getting better there with the more games we play.”
Bellamy’s men were racing the clock inside the opening 18 minutes, with Felise Kaufusi, Jahrome Hughes and Christian Welch all scoring in easy fashion.
Luke Thompson’s four-pointer for the ‘Dogs in his season debut was a mere blip, as Tui Kamikamica and George Jennings ensured the Storm led by four tries at the break.
A cricket score loomed when Ryan Papenhuyzen remarkably chased down a Jennings kick early in the season period, only for Bulldogs youngster Jake Averillo to showcase a glimpse of the future.
The 20-year-old scored a try, laid on another, and nailed a 40-20 in the space of an eye-catching 11-minutes.
But it only served to wake up the visitors, who cracked the half-century through tries to Justin Olam, Josh Addo-Carr and Nicho Hynes.
“He’s a player. He’s quick, and he can get over the (advantage) line for us. He can change the tempo of games for us, which is what we need,” Barrett said of Averillo.
“Unfortunately for us tonight, our attack wasn’t our problem. That first half, we had some defensive efforts there on our goal line that just wasn’t up to scratch.”