Bulldogs coach Ron Griffiths says Kurri can rise to challenge and make semi-finals

Kurri Kurri coach Ron Griffiths is confident his side can rise to the challenge and make the Newcastle RL semi-finals after their setback loss to Maitland on Saturday.

The Bulldogs led 12-6 at half-time and their never-say-die approach kept them in the hunt until the final whistle when the young Pickers recorded a 19-16 win in front of a big Coalfields crowd at the Maitland Sportsground.

"I thought our effort was OK. I was really pleased that we could turn that around in the space of seven days," Bulldogs coach said of his side's improved performance after the week before's disappointing 32-10 loss to Lakes United.

"Our executions wasn't where it needs to be. We had a good chat after the game and there were probably some minor things we can correct with the right sort of training.

"At the end of the day full credit to Maitland, they got a couple of opportunities and were able to take advantage of them.

"It creates an opportunity for us where we need to keep winning. We plays Wests who are running first and we play Souths twice who are running second and who have been far and away the two most consistent teams.

"It provides us with the opportunity to show a little bit of resolve and really measure who we are as a group.

"I've got no doubt they've got the confidence and belief in themselves to do it, but it will take a bit of hard work."

Maitland scored first through a barging try under the posts by Callan Burgess, however, two inspired pieces of play by clever Bulldogs halfback Jerome Haines ensured the Bulldogs led at the break.

Haines managed to turn the ball over and then pass at full stretch in the air after being ankle tapped to send Ngangarra Barker in beside the post after on a long run.

He then sent Tom McKenzie in with another clever assist shortly before the break.

After the break the Pickers scored tries through Jye Bieman-King and Tylar Carter and took their lead to 18-12 with a Bieman-King penalty goal.

Maitland had seemingly put the game beyond the Bulldogs' grasp when halfback Frazer Price kicked a field goal to extend their lead to 19-12 with 90 seconds left on the clock.

But in their typical never say die approach, the Bulldogs snatched a late try after Haines regained a grubber kick from the restart and winger Ben Edwards crossed out wide with 30 seconds left on the clock.

The Bulldogs will be monitoring Haines after he complained on some hamstring soreness and Barker who received a couple of head knocks.

Centre Zeb Dunstan could be a few weeks still from returning from injury, while Jono Maloney should be available next week.