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  1. #1
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    The eerie similarities between these Dogs and 2016 — and how they’re even better now

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    They’re doing it again.

    In the Western Bulldogs’ breakthrough premiership year of 2016, they burst out of the blocks, sitting second after five rounds - behind a North Melbourne side who would soon collapse to eighth - with a percentage in the low 170s.

    After five rounds in 2021, they’ve been even better. Luke Beveridge’s side won its first five games - for the first time since 1946 - with a percentage in the high 170s. They’re almost three games and percentage clear inside the top eight, and they’re contenders once again.


    Those aren’t the only similarities between the two sides, and the Dogs will be hoping mirror mode lasts until September; but there’s one key way that this team is even better.


    The Bulldogs were a revelation in 2016, with their ability to move the ball at speed and yet control it stunning the footy world.
    They did it by controlling the ball both inside and outside of the contest - just like they’re doing in 2021.



    The Bulldogs midfield is back at its 2016-level best. (NOTE: The 2016 contested differential and 2021 disposal differential numbers should be swapped.)Source: FOX SPORTSOf course, the fact the Bulldogs have played some likely non-finalists contributes to their impressive statistics, but the above stats compare teams in the opening five rounds only; many of those great teams would’ve had easy runs to start the year, too.

    So what is that midfield dominance turning into?
    Just like 2016, the Bulldogs are the top of the charts in those key midfield stats, but they’ve added a crucial string to their bow: scoring power, thanks to excellent forward line efficiency.
    In their premiership year the Dogs created plenty of entries, but were bottom four for converting them into scores. This year, they’re top of the mountain.

    The

    Bulldogs are dominating in all of these key categories - and unlike in 2016, they're putting up big scores, too.Source: FOX SPORTSSo what is the major difference that is driving this scoring boost?

    They had to work hard to kick their goals in 2016 because they didn’t have the tall targets. They kicked just 47 goals from their key forwards and rucks for the entire home and away season - Jack Redpath (20), Tom Boyd (10), Jordan Roughead (6), Tom Campbell (5), Zaine Cordy (5) and Will Minson (1).


    The Dogs ranked 18th in the AFL for goals from that position in 2016, matching that ranking in 2017 and 2018. There was some growth over the last two seasons, as Josh Bruce joined the club and Aaron Naughton arrived as a potential superstar; but this year there has been an explosion.



    The Bulldogs are finally getting their goals from key forwards and rucks, rather than relying on medium and small players.Source: FOX SPORTS

    Through five rounds, the Bulldogs rank second for goals per game from key forwards and rucks, behind only West Coast and their terrifying trio of Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and Oscar Allen.
    With Josh Bruce on 17 goals thanks to his Good Friday haul of 10, followed by Aaron Naughton (11), Tim English (9) and Stefan Martin (1), the Bulldogs have already kicked 38 goals from their talls. At this rate, they’ll beat the 2016 side’s total by Round 7.

    The inclusion of Martin looms as one of the best value acquisitions of the season, since it allows English to rest forward, which in turn helps Bruce and Naughton - who don’t have to be the only talls inside 50.


    Bruce struggled for form and fitness last year, partially because of hub life, and Luke Beveridge had to rely on Mitch Wallis reinventing himself as a medium forward target. He led the team in goalkicking with 25, so it kind of worked - though it’s worth noting Naughton only played 12 games.


    But when you don’t need to rely on a midfielder as your second tall, it can only be good news. And it means Beveridge doesn’t have to be clever spinning the magnets to make the most of what he’s got; he can just put players in their best positions and watch them work.


    FFC: Established 1877

    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: The eerie similarities between these Dogs and 2016 — and how they’re even better now

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    The inclusion of Martin looms as one of the best value acquisitions of the season, since it allows English to rest forward, which in turn helps Bruce and Naughton - who don’t have to be the only talls inside 50.
    Testify
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  4. #3
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    Re: The eerie similarities between these Dogs and 2016 — and how they’re even better now

    Words like dominating, top of the mountain etc. I think I'm going to explode!

  5. #4
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    Re: The eerie similarities between these Dogs and 2016 — and how they’re even better now

    The only difference I see this year is the injuries are not factoring on our list so we have the best players on the park
    BB.

    Bulldogs are on a Roll.

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    Re: The eerie similarities between these Dogs and 2016 — and how they’re even better now

    Quote Originally Posted by Bumper Bulldogs View Post
    The only difference I see this year is the injuries are not factoring on our list so we have the best players on the park
    Please go knock on some wood.
    Our 1954 premiership players are our heroes, and it has to be said that Charlie was their hero.

  7. #6
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    Re: The eerie similarities between these Dogs and 2016 — and how they’re even better now

    It is so important that we are finally converting our midfield dominance into scoring. The Triple Towers are working - and Schache waiting in the wings.

    It will be interesting whether we can maintain it as we continue to face good sides.

  8. #7
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    Re: The eerie similarities between these Dogs and 2016 — and how they’re even better now

    Quote Originally Posted by jazzadogs View Post
    It is so important that we are finally converting our midfield dominance into scoring. The Triple Towers are working - and Schache waiting in the wings.

    It will be interesting whether we can maintain it as we continue to face good sides.
    Isn't it completely batshit to be thinking that we have Schache in the twos playing well and the best kid in the land awaiting a chance to play as a key forward......whilst having three very capable talls in the senior team forward of centre!

    It's not very Bulldogs, that's for sure.

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  10. #8
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    Re: The eerie similarities between these Dogs and 2016 — and how they’re even better now

    Quote Originally Posted by jeemak View Post
    Isn't it completely batshit to be thinking that we have Schache in the twos playing well and the best kid in the land awaiting a chance to play as a key forward......whilst having three very capable talls in the senior team forward of centre!

    It's not very Bulldogs, that's for sure.
    Footy journos everywhere lamenting they can't recycle the 'Bulldogs need a key forward' storyline during trade week.
    Our 1954 premiership players are our heroes, and it has to be said that Charlie was their hero.

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    Re: The eerie similarities between these Dogs and 2016 — and how they’re even better now

    Quote Originally Posted by comrade View Post
    Footy journos everywhere lamenting they can't recycle the 'Bulldogs need a key forward' storyline during trade week.
    David King has tried by calling our forward line make shift. FFS, Bruce has played Forward for 6 years, this is Naughton's 3rd forward.
    FFC: Established 1877

    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

  12. #10
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    Re: The eerie similarities between these Dogs and 2016 — and how they’re even better now

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    David King has tried by calling our forward line make shift. FFS, Bruce has played Forward for 6 years, this is Naughton's 3rd forward.
    To be fair he was super complimentary (even encouraging non fans to get to our games) and although he said it was makeshift, his point was that our forward line was cut from another cloth but that was actually a real positive (and was working).

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    Re: The eerie similarities between these Dogs and 2016 — and how they’re even better now

    Does every journalist forget we finished 5th regular season in 2015 and play brilliant footy that year???? We actually didn't come from no where.

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    Re: The eerie similarities between these Dogs and 2016 — and how they’re even better now

    Quote Originally Posted by kruder View Post
    Does every journalist forget we finished 5th regular season in 2015 and play brilliant footy that year???? We actually didn't come from no where.
    And finished 19-7 equal best record with the runners up in 16.

  16. #13
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    Re: The eerie similarities between these Dogs and 2016 — and how they’re even better now

    Fourteen wins in 2015 and fifteen in 2016 in the home and away seasons is kinda forgotten because our ladder position reflected the competition more so than it did how well we played at times.

    This year I think we're seeing/ going to see the results of rules being geared towards sides who are a bit more mature and bat deeper, with more blow outs being likely and a distinct view of which teams are contenders and those that aren't being evident at the end of the home and away season.

    Irrespective of who wins the flag, the commentary will be around it being a weaker year for the competition. However, in reality the competition was closer in previous years because of the way the game was set up.

    Expect a lot more blow outs this year, hopefully we're not on the end of too many (but I suspect we'll be on the end of a couple depending on scheduling and player availability).

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    Re: The eerie similarities between these Dogs and 2016 — and how they’re even better now

    It's not the only factor at play here:

    McNeill and Scott - scrappers who have had to fight for an AFL career. I just don't think teams can compete in finals without a couple of guys who show the group just how much an opportunity means.

    Jordan Sweet - he's far from the finished product, but when Martin is rested we can keep the same structure forward of the ball. Less swapping of magnets = more settled line up = more synergy.

    Adam Treloar - genuine burst speed from the contest. It adds a whole new element to our midfield mix.

    In retrospect we got a lot right last off season.
    Western Bulldogs: 2016 Premiers

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  19. #15
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    Re: The eerie similarities between these Dogs and 2016 — and how they’re even better now

    The best part about winning the flag this year will be winning the flag, but the second best part will be not having every single moment of success no matter how fleeting compared to 2016.
    - RIP Goldstein for 2021 First - 2020-2020 -

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