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  1. #1
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    Western Bulldogs’ slide after 2016 premiership was predictable as Luke Beveridge’s team reloads



    They were the surprise premier who embarked on the surprise evolution.

    The Western Bulldogs had an average age of 23 years 270 days — the fifth-youngest — when they stormed to the 2016 flag, leading some to believe they’d be sticking around.

    But the fact they were the first team to win it from seventh, breaking a 62-year premiership drought, meant others haven’t been surprised by the drop off.

    Regardless, the Dogs are the first side since Adelaide in 1998 to miss the finals in the two consecutive seasons after winning the flag.

    It has made the kennel one of the most fascinating places in the competition.

    Who are the Western Bulldogs? A club who has taken two steps back and is about to go forward? Or a side still on the slide?

    The 2016 flag was only two and a half years ago, but may as well be six and a half years ago.

    Of the 22 players who won the Dogs the 2016 decider, Matthew Boyd (retired), Luke Dahlhaus (traded), Clay Smith (retired), Shane Biggs (retired), Jordan Roughead (traded), Jake Stringer (traded) and Joel Hamling (traded) have moved on, while Liam Picken (concussion) hasn’t played since 2017.

    Another dozen senior-listed players have departed in the same period.

    So let’s park 2016.


    Finishing 10th and 13th the last two seasons would suggest this is a group a long way from finals contention, but the Dogs may not be that far off.

    Last year, they ran out younger than their opponent in every game.
    Statistically, they also endured the worst run with injury in the competition, with their best 22 missing more games than any rival.

    Picken and Tom Liberatore weren’t sighted, while Wood, Dale Morris, Luke Dahlhaus, Matthew Suckling and Bailey Dale missed large chunks of the campaign.

    So when critics suggest the seat Beveridge sits on may be getting a little warm (he’s contracted til the end of 2020), he has an alibi or two.

    Jason Johannisen (ankle), Lukas Webb (neck) and Dale (foot) will miss Round 1, while Tom Boyd (back) won’t be seen until the second half of the year.

    Still, the medical room as quiet as it’s been for some time. Meanwhile, the Dogs have amassed some of the most exciting young talent in the league.

    Defender Aaron Naughton finished fourth in the best and fairest after a brilliant debut season in which he stood the likes of Lance Franklin, Ben Brown, Jack Riewoldt and Jeremy Cameron. He is 19.

    So is Ed Richards, who was as eye-catching as his shock of red hair off half-back and up forward.

    Toby McLean is 23, Caleb Daniel 22, Bailey Williams is 21 and so is ruckman Tim English, who has won rave reviews over summer.

    Rookie Billy Gowers kicked 26.20 in year one and has a decade ahead of him, while Brad Lynch, 21, averaged 19 possessions in his first three games and looked at home playing the last nine matches of the season.

    Even the top two in last year’s best and fairest — Lachie Hunter and Jack Macrae — are 24.

    Marcus Bontempelli has put last year’s injury niggles behind him and is, frighteningly, still 23.

    The nucleus is there. The forward line and scoring loom as the ongoing challenge, however.
    The Dogs ranked second for clearance differential last year, but couldn’t take maximum advantage, ranking only 12th in scores from clearances. The Bulldogs averaged 71.6 points per game — ranked 15th.

    Since Barry Hall left in 2011, just two players have kicked more than 50 goals or more in a season - Jake Stringer and Tory Dickson, both in 2016.

    Gowers was the most targeted player inside 50m last year, Josh Schache is still developing, Sam Lloyd has joined from Richmond, Jackson Trengove will play a ruck-forward role and Bontempelli and Mitch Wallis will spend time in attack. But there’s no standout forward in the group.

    But ultimately, getting the pill inside 50m hasn’t been the problem, it’s the efficiency once it gets in there that’s been the bugbear.

    At their best the Dogs are a grunt and territory unit with a battery of swarming midfielders. This is still their strength and the last month of last season proved it.

    They climbed the summit in 2016 and while the path back to the top remains somewhat clouded, there’s some handy climbers assembling at base camp.

    Chris Grant -

    Aaron Naughton
    “Added size and looks more comfortable and confident playing what is a very hard position for a teenager.”

    Tim English:
    “We’ve been pleased with his ability to roll forward and catch the ball inside 50m.”

    Ed Richards:
    “Always had the speed but has improved his endurance so he’s going to play a bit more off a wing.”

    Bailey Dale:
    “Unfortunately had a setback and going to miss the start of the year. Got some good sessions in after the navicular problem last year, but he got some soreness in a different spot.”

    Bailey Williams:
    “He’s one of the guys Bevo sees becoming permanent midfielder in future.”

    Brad Lynch:
    “We’re excited because he’s come from a long way back. His attributes — speed and a good kick on both sides — are only becoming more important.”

    Billy Gowers:
    “Instead of it being a makeshift forward line, we’re hopeful players like Billy don’t have to be the go-to person and can play to their strengths more.”

    LINK
    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’ slide after 2016 premiership was predictable as Luke Beveridge’s team reloads

    Great article from Sam Edmund. Not detailing excuses but rather reasons for the past two years. We have an exciting crop of young players and I can see a bright future.
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

  4. #3
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ slide after 2016 premiership was predictable as Luke Beveridge’s team reloads

    Good read. Yeah the young crop coming through excites me.

    Forward efficiency once we get it in there needs to be better.

    Our backend and through the middle we look quite good but it’s the forward end which is the struggle and the ruck. Our ball movement in the latter part of last year was good so the issue isn’t so much here it’s what we do once we get it up there that’s the issue I think.
    AFL PREMIERS 2016

  5. #4
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ slide after 2016 premiership was predictable as Luke Beveridge’s team reloads

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    Great article from Sam Edmund. Not detailing excuses but rather reasons for the past two years. We have an exciting crop of young players and I can see a bright future.
    Funny that you mention excuses and reasons, I was just thinking the other day , what’s the difference ?
    It’s an excuse of why it happened and a reason it happened, same thing.
    Bring back the biff

  6. #5
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ slide after 2016 premiership was predictable as Luke Beveridge’s team reloads

    Decent article finally, well done Sam Edmund on not over dramatising and going for the headline.
    We look to be on the correct road and if we manage to keep these boy's together we won't be far off another crack.

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  8. #6
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ slide after 2016 premiership was predictable as Luke Beveridge’s team reloads

    Is it really a good article? The article title is "Western Bulldogs’ slide after 2016 premiership was predictable as Luke Beveridge’s team reloads" Was the slide predictable or did we take the eye off the ball?

    It asks but not really answers who the Western Bulldogs are? A club who has taken two steps back and is about to go forward? Or a side still on the slide?

    It doesn't really question if we managed the players well after the grand final or why so many of the playing group had disappointing seasons since and it certainly doesn't question why we had a long injury list.

    I like reading positive articles about us and I talk up our younger players all the time and on top of that I'm genuinely excited about the emerging talents like Schache, Williams, English, Lipinski, Naughton, Edwards, Gowers, Lynch, Smith and West etc but the article doesn't explain why the slide was predictable in my opinion.
    Tough times don't last, tough people do
    "He'll accumulate and be involved, but we're looking a qualitative sheen on his game that we need, and it is part of our scope to score"

  9. #7
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ slide after 2016 premiership was predictable as Luke Beveridge’s team reloads

    Let's face it. Some young players let 2016 go to their head. Glosses over that I think.
    "We've got to be good in the phone box, and good in the tardis" - Pearls of wisdom from Luke Beveridge.

  10. #8
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ slide after 2016 premiership was predictable as Luke Beveridge’s team reloads

    I think the whole club may have let it go to their heads.
    The curse is dead.

  11. #9
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ slide after 2016 premiership was predictable as Luke Beveridge’s team reloads

    We really do have issues forward of the ball. Our midfield covers a host of sins.

    If we had one A-grade forward we would be a finals lock.
    Western Bulldogs: 2016 Premiers

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