A FOUR-try second half gave Footscray a bonus point 39-20 win over Box Hill in the Victorian Rugby Union's premier 1 division at Sparks Reserve on Saturday.
The scoring blitz of the last 40 minutes went some way to masking the lacklustre start of the Bulldogs, who struggled out of the blocks on their return from a week's rest.
"The first half was a bit shaky," Bulldogs coach Junior Naufahu said. "It took a while for us to settle into the game. The boys needed a bit more urgency." Sitting in a precarious fifth position, the Bulldogs found themselves trailing 13-10 at half-time.
They could ill afford to lose this one with Box Hill one of the teams snapping at their heels, and Naufahu made that message abundantly clear in his address to the team at the break.
The players responded with a much-improved second half. They lifted the intensity, crucially got numbers to the breakdown and hit their fleet-footed runners with crisper passes.
Central to the Bulldogs' dominance at the breakdown were flankers Tim Diack and Josh Kaifa.
"Their role is to be first at the breakdown," Naufahu said. "Whenever a ruck formed, they were the ones on top of it.
"We were able to spread their defence because of their work."
The main beneficiary was Japanese-raised winger Keisuke Yamada, who injected life into the Bulldogs with two tries.
"He's not a big guy but he does have a lot of pace," Naufahu said.
Martin Naufahu made a huge impression in limited time in his first game back from a hamstring injury.
The hooker's kicking game in the run of play had the hosts on the back foot, and he also landed six conversions.
The Bulldogs have opened up a game-plus-percentage break on the clubs sitting outside the top six.
They face a big test at the home of second-placed Moorabbin on Saturday.