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  1. #1
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    Western Bulldogs premiership hangover: Where has their 'sexy' football gone?

    Three weeks ago, Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge denied his team was suffering from a premiership hangover. Rather, said Beveridge, the Dogs' struggles were due to an even competition.

    "I'm aware of some of the external commentary. It's so far from reality, it's not funny. We have to live in the real world too. A club that wins a flag after 62 years and a pretty young group, they're going to have their own challenges mentally," he said.

    In that same week, The Sunday Age ran a headline on June 18: Can struggling Bulldogs bark up the right tree?

    Fast forward to Friday night, and a stinging 59-point loss to the Adelaide Crows Beveridge labelled as one of the worst of his career, and it surely would be difficult for any Dog to argue this wasn't, at least in part, because of a premiership hangover.

    The ferocity that was there last year has disappeared. The Dogs may also have been worked out tactically, with opponents more attuned of where to stand to negate their quick handballs at stoppages, but the desperation isn't there. No one suggests they don't want to win. Rather, it's the intangibles, the frenzied desperation needed to enjoy success in such an even competition, that appears absent. They played without fear last year.

    "We've been questioned by the outside world about what our identity is. That grates on you," a candid Beveridge said on Friday night.

    "It's time to make sure that quarters and halves like that just don't happen. What happened in the second half was unacceptable."

    That was when the Crows slammed on an unanswered 10 goals.

    Then there was this from Beveridge on the Dogs' effort: "I think it is one of those variables; that 'want' is very hard to [measure] what's going on in that emotional range of your players. We've obviously had it in our recent history and it's one of those things when nights like this happen, you question whether or not it's totally there."

    What also isn't there is there ability to win the ball. They had led the league in disposal differential and contested and uncontested disposal differential last year and were second in clearance differential, largely through their snappy handballs and ability to find space. They have slipped in all categories, even to mid-table in some categories.

    Former Richmond coach Danny Frawley has questioned the Dogs' hunger; former Bulldogs coach Terry Wallace has questioned their defence. Others question whether they have been disadvantaged by the new rule disallowing the third-man up at stoppages.

    "We've been questioned by the outside world about what our identity is. That grates on you."
    They do lack height in the defensive 50 and miss premiership full-back Joel Hamling, who joined Fremantle. They need a defender, with drums having beaten for weeks they are keen on Crow Jake Lever.

    Forward reinforcements have also failed. Travis Cloke has not delivered what they had hoped. He has also battled depression. Stewart Crameri is out for the year with a hip problem. Jake Stringer is not the force he was. Is that because the ball is not being delivered to him well enough? Tom Boyd, such a star in the finals last year, is also battling depression. Skipper Bob Murphy is injured.

    Jason Johannisen did not allow himself to be bullied like he had been in recent weeks, even though Crows skipper Taylor Walker looked to niggle him as often as he could. But Johannisen faded in the second half when he was really needed.

    There is time for the Dogs to rebound, as Beveridge has pointed out. There was what players said was a "raw" and "intense" meeting between players and coaches immediately after the game. Will something come from this? Can they rediscover the "sexy football" AFL chief Gillon McLachlan praised last year?

    In the Dogs' favour is that they are outside the top eight by a game. But it's hard to see how things will change. They have lost four of their past five matches, with that win being by a point against North Melbourne in round 14. Three of the defeats have been by at least 46 points. Going back two months, they have won only two from their past eight that second victory against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium.

    They have also dropped all five matches interstate. Road games are often seen as a time for players to generate season-turning performances. Beveridge said his team had been "on a bit of a mission" heading to Adelaide. So much for that.

    The Dogs did create history by winning a flag from seventh spot last year. However, at this stage last year they were sitting in fourth spot with 11 wins. They have seven now. They would finish with 15 wins last year. To make the eight now, they will need to win at least five, possibly six, of their final seven matches (North Melbourne made the finals with 12 wins last year).

    Can Bulldog fans see that happening?

    The Bulldogs' run home: Will they bite back?

    R17: v Carlton (MCG)

    R18: v Gold Coast Suns (Cazaly Stadium)

    R19: v Essendon (Etihad Stadium)

    R20: v Brisbane Lions (Gabba)

    R21: GWS Giants (Etihad Stadium)

    R22: Port Adelaide (Eureka Stadium)

    R23: v Hawthorn (Etihad Stadium)

    http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-new...08-gx7a1t.html

  2. #2
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    Re: Western Bulldogs premiership hangover: Where has their 'sexy' football gone?

    I still say something is rumbling inside the club . What it is I don't know but something is not right.
    You can go on about a premiership hangover but you don't lose what we have lost just by a premiership hangover.
    I can see some of the points but I don't think it would make you go backwards this far.
    Bring back the biff

  3. #3
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    Re: Western Bulldogs premiership hangover: Where has their 'sexy' football gone?

    Quote Originally Posted by ledge View Post
    I still say something is rumbling inside the club . What it is I don't know but something is not right.
    You can go on about a premiership hangover but you don't lose what we have lost just by a premiership hangover.
    I can see some of the points but I don't think it would make you go backwards this far.
    It's got that "feel" doesn't it? Something seems awry. Two players out with depression, the whole JJ and Stringer thing. Our contested numbers, clearances etc just plummeting. We surely couldn't have dropped away that badly could we? You do then have to look at the fact a bunch of 22 y.o's just broke a 62 year drought. So perhaps the 'hangover' was multiplied.

    What i found surprising is all season long was Bevo saying there is no hangover and it's not a "hunger" issue. But then after Friday night he questioned it. What i saw friday night was the same i've seen most of the season. Why the sudden change of thought?

  4. #4
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    Re: Western Bulldogs premiership hangover: Where has their 'sexy' football gone?

    Quote Originally Posted by bulldogsthru&thru View Post
    It's got that "feel" doesn't it? Something seems awry. Two players out with depression, the whole JJ and Stringer thing. Our contested numbers, clearances etc just plummeting. We surely couldn't have dropped away that badly could we? You do then have to look at the fact a bunch of 22 y.o's just broke a 62 year drought. So perhaps the 'hangover' was multiplied.

    What i found surprising is all season long was Bevo saying there is no hangover and it's not a "hunger" issue. But then after Friday night he questioned it. What i saw friday night was the same i've seen most of the season. Why the sudden change of thought?
    It mirrors the mc Cartney years we were good for a half then dropped right away.
    The JJ /Stringer seems contradictory , if what is said is true how they are playing in the same team is beyond belief.
    Sadly if two players have fallen out other players take sides and it just rips the heart out of a club.
    JJ resigning would put a dead stop on these rumours .
    But what exactly is the problem ??
    Bevo looks dishevelled from about round 9. the look and body language have changed and they aren't good.
    If only it was a hangover it would be the best scenario if that's what it is.
    Bring back the biff

  5. #5
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    Re: Western Bulldogs premiership hangover: Where has their 'sexy' football gone?

    Stringer very publicly and very strongly dismissed the talk of a rift with JJ. He wouldn't have done that, against club wishes, if there was anything to it.
    "Happy days, Richo...happy bloody days!!!"

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