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  1. #1
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    Western Bulldogs hardly done and dusted just yet

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    Understandably, the Western Bulldogs' rooms weren't a happy place after Saturday night's loss to St Kilda.


    Not only had third on the ladder become sixth with a possibility of seventh by the end of the weekend, but the injury toll was shocking, Mitch Wallis being carted off to hospital with a broken leg, Jack Redpath pondering a knee reconstruction, Dale Morris nursing a hamstring.

    Emotional, devastating, grieving, were all words getting a decent workout, fair enough in the immediate aftermath not only of a costly loss, but a sense that the football gods somehow never seem to be on the Bulldogs' side.


    They certainly haven't been on the injury front this year, starting in round three, when skipper Bob Murphy went down with a season-ending knee injury, that last-minute stumble, literally also costing the Dogs what would have been a massive victory over Hawthorn.


    They lost the in-form Jason Johannisen and key forward Tom Boyd the following week, Matt Suckling the week after that, then, in order, Marcus Adams, Koby Stevens and Luke Dahlhaus.


    Throw in the late start to the season of important forward Tory Dickson, who has struggled all season since returning from an adductor injury, and there really hasn't been a single week this year that coach Luke Beveridge has had anything like a full, healthy list with which to work.


    And that, perversely, is the very reason the Bulldogs, once the immediate emotional pain of Saturday night subsides, should still be upbeat about their prospects this September.


    The other is Beveridge. Because the most important qualities the Bulldogs' second-season coach has brought to the club are depth and flexibility. And, once again, they put the Dogs in better position to cope with adversity than most of their top eight rivals.


    Last year, that was reflected in a steady stream of players in and out of the best 22 with pressure kept on individual performance and those who came in always able to play a role. This season it's been as much about positional flexibility within that 22. And these are the sort of circumstances in which both traits come in handy.


    Without wanting to downgrade the importance of the unfortunate Wallis, his loss doesn't make or break the Bulldogs' season. Particularly not when the return of Luke Dahlhaus, who was probably leading the best and fairest when he got injured in round 12, is imminent.


    Throw in the recent returns of Stevens and Clay Smith, and the Bulldogs are arguably still in a better position in terms of quantity of potential midfield rotations than they have been for most of the season.


    Redpath, similarly, isn't the be all and end all of the Bulldogs' forward set-up. Indeed, he wasn't even part of it until round seven this season, when the Dogs were averaging just as many goals per game as they are now.


    Scoring has clearly been an Achilles heel for the Dogs this season, but you'd think less of one than last Saturday night when Jake Stringer returns this week.


    And if Beveridge is still intent on a forward formation including Stringer plus two talls, another one in Tom Campbell is also due to return from a foot injury. So is another more than handy smaller forward in Toby McLean after a likely run in the VFL this weekend.


    At the other end of the ground, Morris' hamstring might be more problematic than the other two. But then, this is a team which at one stage this season was simultaneously without Murphy, Johannisen, Suckling, Adams and Matthew Boyd, yet still was able to plug the holes, the system more important than the individual parts of it.


    Joel Hamling isn't Morris, but has proven a capable defensive role player. While Adams, two or three weeks away with a foot injury, is another who will give the Dogs a sterner defensive outlook upon return.


    The Bulldogs have used 36 players so far this season, the most of any top eight team. But unlike the six down-the-table teams which have used more, their performance hasn't suffered notably as a result of that lack of stability of personnel.


    Another important step in the Bulldogs' learning curve under Beveridge has been greater resilience and maturity in an apparent crisis, be it the loss of personnel or a tight finish.


    Even last year, the Bulldogs went 4-5 in games decided by 15 points or less, the one which still really burns an elimination final lost to Adelaide by seven points. So far this season, they're 5-2, four of their last five wins by a total of just 25 points.


    Clearly their next two weeks, against Geelong at Simonds Stadium, and North Melbourne, are critical, after which the remaining three games are against Collingwood, Essendon and Fremantle.


    Given the form of the latter pair, particularly, you'd have to give the Dogs every chance of at least three if not four more wins, and if so, more than likely a top four berth.


    That's a scenario a lot rosier than the immediate doom and gloom that came in the aftermath of Saturday night's loss. Sure, it's another road hump. But the Bulldogs have become so practiced in dealing with them it's unlikely things are going to start falling apart now.
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

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  3. #2
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    Re: Western Bulldogs hardly done and dusted just yet

    I agree with Rohan's assessment.. Hate losing players to serious injuries, but we have lots of inside mids and Wally has hardly been setting the world on fire and whilst big Jack's form was good earlier on in the season his last month had been poor (just 6 goals in 5 games).. Both in form make us a better team, but they aren't on the irreplacable list.

    Look forward to Dahl, McLean, Adams & Stringer getting back into the team in the lead up to the finals.

  4. #3
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    Re: Western Bulldogs hardly done and dusted just yet

    Quote Originally Posted by Mantis View Post
    I agree with Rohan's assessment.. Hate losing players to serious injuries, but we have lots of inside mids and Wally has hardly been setting the world on fire and whilst big Jack's form was good earlier on in the season his last month had been poor (just 6 goals in 5 games).. Both in form make us a better team, but they aren't on the irreplacable list.

    Look forward to Dahl, McLean, Adams & Stringer getting back into the team in the lead up to the finals.
    I share your concerns re: same paced midfield, though Wally has that work-rate that you'd rather not lose.

    We should still be competitive, though without trying to sound too pragmatic about it (i.e not to ignore two young men facing a year out) it's losing the match/any chance of top 4 that still smarts today.
    Float Along - Fill Your Lungs

  5. #4
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    Re: Western Bulldogs hardly done and dusted just yet

    Looking at us as a young, developing list, the silver lining is greater opportunity for others. I can see a Josh Dunkley moving into Wallis spot in the rotations and only speeding up his development.
    Smokey this is not 'Nam, this is bowling. There are rules.

  6. #5
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    Re: Western Bulldogs hardly done and dusted just yet

    Honeychurch for Wallis and Campbell for Redpath. Not losing much there!

  7. #6
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    Re: Western Bulldogs hardly done and dusted just yet

    Quote Originally Posted by Throughandthrough View Post
    Honeychurch for Wallis and Campbell for Redpath. Not losing much there!
    Campbell is lucky to play again this season with foot problem
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

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    Re: Western Bulldogs hardly done and dusted just yet

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    Campbell is lucky to play again this season with foot problem
    I was not aware of that. Minson!

  9. #8
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    Re: Western Bulldogs hardly done and dusted just yet

    Quote Originally Posted by Throughandthrough View Post
    I was not aware of that. Minson!
    Rohan got that wrong in his article.
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

  10. #9
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    Re: Western Bulldogs hardly done and dusted just yet

    Quote Originally Posted by The Pie Man View Post
    I share your concerns re: same paced midfield, though Wally has that work-rate that you'd rather not lose.
    I don't want to kick a man whilst he is down, but Mitch isn't our best defensive runner.. Always seems pretty slow to transition back.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Pie Man View Post
    We should still be competitive, though without trying to sound too pragmatic about it (i.e not to ignore two young men facing a year out) it's losing the match/any chance of top 4 that still smarts today.
    Yeah it's annoying, but we have only just been going and have escaped with wins in all our close ones since the Haw game.. If we don't bring our best or somewhere close to it we aren't good enough just yet to keep finding a way, especially with limited rotations and a few key men in the stands.

  11. #10
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    Re: Western Bulldogs hardly done and dusted just yet

    The physical toll is one thing. I am more concerned about the emotional toll on the young playing group, especially with what happened in the change rooms post game with Mitch.
    Footscray member since 1980.

  12. #11
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    Re: Western Bulldogs hardly done and dusted just yet

    Quote Originally Posted by Flamethrower View Post
    The physical toll is one thing. I am more concerned about the emotional toll on the young playing group, especially with what happened in the change rooms post game with Mitch.
    They're a strong group, look how they started 2015 after what happened at the end of 2014
    If you kicked five goals and Tom Boyd kicked five goals, Tom Boyd kicked more goals than you.

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  14. #12
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    Re: Western Bulldogs hardly done and dusted just yet

    Good assessment really and that's how I started looking at things on Sunday once the emotion of the injuries had subsided

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  16. #13
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    Re: Western Bulldogs hardly done and dusted just yet

    Quote Originally Posted by Throughandthrough View Post
    Honeychurch for Wallis and Campbell for Redpath. Not losing much there!
    Mitch has been really good this season. His work around packs has been very good on his day. Jack may have only kicked several goals in the last few games but the entries have been atrocious. Especially Mitch, ( rate him above Koby, Jong ) I think these two are being undersold.

    We rank 11th in the comp for goals. Losing Jack won't help.
    "We've got to be good in the phone box, and good in the tardis" - Pearls of wisdom from Luke Beveridge.

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  18. #14
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    Re: Western Bulldogs hardly done and dusted just yet

    Quote Originally Posted by Mantis View Post
    I agree with Rohan's assessment.. Hate losing players to serious injuries, but we have lots of inside mids and Wally has hardly been setting the world on fire and whilst big Jack's form was good earlier on in the season his last month had been poor (just 6 goals in 5 games).. Both in form make us a better team, but they aren't on the irreplacable list.

    Look forward to Dahl, McLean, Adams & Stringer getting back into the team in the lead up to the finals.
    You're harsh. Wallis was instrumental against the Suns and was one of two best players on the ground. His 3 goals were at critical times I thought and given our apparent dearth of forward attacking options his ability to hit the scoreboard may be missed. I thought he was just coming into some form.
    Josh Schache >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Jake Stringer

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  20. #15
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    Re: Western Bulldogs hardly done and dusted just yet

    Riewoldt without a Glove is a disaster. We were always going to struggle without the glove.
    "We've got to be good in the phone box, and good in the tardis" - Pearls of wisdom from Luke Beveridge.

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