FOOTSCRAY clocked off too early and almost coughed up its 38-31 win over Power House in the Victorian Rugby Union Premier 1 Dewer Shield away on Saturday.
The Bulldogs were in cruise control on the hour mark when coach Junior Naufahu offered playing time to his bench players.
But the rest of the team took it as an invitation to slacken off in the 15minutes before full-time, and Power House provided a late scare with four tries in that time.
"The boys just went to sleep," Naufahu said. "They got too cocky and started to get out of what was working for us for 60 minutes.
"It wasn't good to watch that last 15minutes – nearly cost us the game."
The opening hour saw the Bulldogs produce some of their best rugby all winter. They ran and supported, stuck to their pods of three and, more importantly, figured on the scoreboard.
"Power House really felt the pressure of our pods working together," Naufahu said. "The last four or five games we couldn't get it right. On Saturday, we started getting points off it and it was pretty good to watch."
Loose forwards Tuipine Apineru and Mataola Akauola were like wrecking balls. They launched their bodies into the Power House defensive line and found plenty of gaps.
"Power House couldn't hold them down. They just kept breaking the lines and we kept getting go forward from their runs," Naufahu said. "They dominated with the ball in hand."
Flanker Tim Diack was impressive as a roadblock on the defensive end.
Fly half Martin Naufahu had a day out with 23 points, including two tries, two conversions and three penalty goals.
The other tryscorers were Akauola, Keisuke Yamada and Michael Toetu.
The Bulldogs, clinging to fifth spot, get a chance to strike a blow to the finals chances of Endeavour Hills at Henry Turner Reserve on Saturday.
Meanwhile, promising young Bulldogs, Josh Kaifa and Titus Raihman, were part of the all-conquering Victoria team that was undefeated in the Under 20 Interstate Trophy in Adelaide.
Kaifa, a loose forward, captained his state, while Raihman dazzled on the wing, as the Big V beat South Australia (39-12), NSW Country (31-13) and Queensland Country (42-5) to swoop on the title.
"I'm pretty proud of them. Usually the Victorian teams don't do as well as they did this year. We were all shocked by the scores," Naufahu said.