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  1. #1
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    How the Western Bulldogs have breathed new life into its 2017 finals and premiership hopes

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    A RETURN to the Western Bulldogs’ 2016 best has breathed new life into the side’s hopes of not only qualifying for the finals, but securing back-to-back premierships.

    Having dominated opposition teams on the core value of winning the contested possession and clearance count throughout last year’s finals series, an emphasis on hitting such heights over the last six weeks has seen Luke Beveridge’s outfit win three games on the bounce.

    As a result, the Bulldogs have returned to finals contention and enter the final month of the season out of the top eight on percentage only from Sydney, Melbourne and West Coast.Since a narrow Round 14 victory over North Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs rank second in the league for both contested possession and clearance differential. It’s a vast improvement from its first 12 games, where it ranked 12th and 15th respectively in each category.

    It’s also a flashback to the Bulldogs’ 2016 finals series, where they bashed and bullied rival sides on the inside to go on a fairytale run and claim the club’s first flag in 62 years.The Dogs were +28 in contested possession differential and +9 in clearance differential during last year’s finals series. It’s an incredible statistic, highlighted by the fact Collingwood is the best contested possession side in the competition this season with an average differential of +7.9.Speaking on Fox Footy’s On The Couch on Monday night, dual North Melbourne premiership player David King suggested such improvements indicated that the Dogs remain a threat.

    “The numbers don’t lie and eventually things will turn for you,” King said.“Over the last few weeks their contested possession game has been building. And their clearance game, which was all important for their territory victories of last year, has been building again.“I think for the first time, we saw the Dogs look like a more complete forward team.

    They had a smaller mix down there — Marcus Bontempelli was down there, Liam Picken is back in sensational form and they have the wildcard in Jason Johannisen.
    “They just look like a more settled outfit and I think (Sunday’s victory over Essendon) was the first time we’ve really seen them at their aggressive best with the football.”The Western Bulldogs’ 30-point win over Essendon was its third straight victory and followed satisfying performances against Carlton and Gold Coast in the fortnight prior.

    The clash also heralded the return to form of Johannisen, the side’s Norm Smith Medal winner in last year’s grand final and a key barometer to a team that relies on his line-breaking pace.Johannisen, who has suffered a disappointing period while dealing with heavy opposition tags, had 18 disposals, five bounces, four marks inside 50 and kicked four goals at Etihad Stadium.
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    Such a dominant performance was due reward for a subtle tactical tweak from Beveridge, according to Brisbane’s triple premiership star Jonathan Brown.“Luke Beveridge has been very clever with him for the last few weeks,” Brown said.“He’s been playing a little bit more forward, but he’s also been playing on the wing and at half back. He’s scoring goals from half back and you’ve got to be careful because he’s drifting down on the outer side of the field.“(Essendon) didn’t target him, but Luke Beveridge has started to change his starting points and he’s been very clever.”Set to play cellar dwellers Brisbane on Saturday evening, the Western Bulldogs are primed to extend its winning streak to four games and remain in the hunt for finals footy.

    Although Beveridge’s team face difficult encounters with GWS Giants, Port Adelaide and Hawthorn to finish the season, recent form suggests qualifying for finals is a realist ambition.And, as the team showed last season, that’s all they need to do in order to become a genuine and worrying threat for opposition sides this September.

    HOW THE DOGS HAVE GOT THEIR BARK BACK

    Contested Possession Differential Rounds 1-13: -1 (12th)Rounds 14-19: +12 (2nd)Season 2016: +17 (1st)

    Clearance Differential Rounds 1-13: -4 (15th)Rounds 14-19: +4 (2nd)Season 2016: +7 (1st)
    Premierships: SENIORS - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, 2014, 2016 . AFL 1954, 2016. RESERVES - 1938, 1945, 1962, 1988, 1994, 1998. UNDER 19S - 1954. Other Premierships - Championship of Victoria 1924. VFL Night Series 1963-64, 1967, 1970. Preseason Cup, 2010.

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  3. #2
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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs have breathed new life into its 2017 finals and premiership hopes

    I reckon it all started in the 1st half against Adelaide - we obliterated them in CP's, clearances and I50's but allowed them to skunk out the back a few times.
    "You've got no fear of The Underdog, that's why you will not survive"
    - Spoon, 2007
    - Western Bulldogs, 2016

  4. #3
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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs have breathed new life into its 2017 finals and premiership hopes

    Im confident if we keep this form up nobody is going to want to play us in the finals they know we dont mess around that time of year!
    I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day.

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  6. #4
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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs have breathed new life into its 2017 finals and premiership hopes

    Yes it has been a tough year 2017 for our club but the last few weeks have been very refreshing and I feel that we are getting our mojo back.

    Last weeks win really showed this against a team also desperate and wanting to make the finals. Really great have JJ back in some great form, Libba slowly getting back thought he was quite good Sunday, Bont doing what he does best, Dicko keeping a couple. Picko kicking 6 v the Suns top effort as since he got that concussion he certainly wasn't his best but I reckon he is getting back to it.

    Loving also the emergence of our young defence. Zaine Cordy has been a big positive this year and is becoming a very important player. Lewis Young had a excellent debut and has kept of doing good things in his first couple of games. Bailey Williams and Bailey Dale who I think has taken great strides in 2017.
    Western Bulldogs 2016 AFL Premiers
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