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  1. #1
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    How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024's most intriguing side?

    Club by club: How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024's most intriguing side?



    THE Western Bulldogs are the most intriguing team entering 2024.

    On paper there is talent everywhere, but that was also the case last season and the Bulldogs managed to be their own worst enemy, missing the finals for the first time in five years.

    There has been a lot of noise coming out of the Whitten Oval, with an ongoing review of the club?s football department not exactly the ideal way to start a new season.

    The Dogs need to back premiership coach Luke Beveridge and get those 2016 vibes back, although the loss of Bailey Smith to a knee injury in December was a cruel blow.

    WESTERN BULLDOGS

    Coach: Luke Beveridge

    Captain: Marcus Bontempelli

    WHAT HAPPENED IN 2023?

    Can anyone explain how the Dogs lost to the West Coast Eagles in round 23 at Marvel Stadium with a finals spot on the line?

    It is still unfathomable four months on and in many ways summed up the Western Bulldogs season.

    They were all over the shop, losing the opening two games by 50 points and 51 points before going on a five-game winning streak from rounds 6-10 which was then followed by three straight losses.

    The second half of the year was a trainwreck, winning just three of the last eight games of the season.

    They were remarkably still in the hunt for finals in round 24 after they defeated Geelong at Kardinia Park, but were denied September action after the GWS Giants took down Carlton in the final game of the round.



    Giving up runs of goals to the opposition was the biggest problem.

    In 14 of their 23 games, the Dogs allowed their opponents to kick four or more goals in a row.

    That is bad for business, as is not being able to win the close ones.

    They lost six games by 12 points or less.

    Captain Marcus Bontempelli can't play better, he was stiff not to win the Brownlow Medal, while Tom Liberatore was brilliant again and Tim English the All-Australian ruckman. Despite this midfield dominance and a stacked forward line, the Dogs weren't the scoring machine many were predicting.

    WESTERN BULLDOGS BEST 23

    FB: B. Dale, L. Jones, E. Richards
    HB: L. Vandermeer, S. Darcy, N. Coffield
    C: B. Williams, T. Liberatore, J. Macrae
    HF: C. Daniel, J. Ugle-Hagan, C. Weightman
    FF: R. Lobb, A. Naughton, R. West
    F: T. English, M. Bontempelli, A. Treloar
    IC: R. Sanders, J. Johannisen, J. O?Donnell, J. Harmes, A Jones (sub)

    WHERE DO THEY FINISH IN 2024?

    It will either be a boom or bust for the Bulldogs.

    You get the sense there won't be any in-between.

    Beveridge will either have his troops positioned as a top-four premiership threat or the wheels will fall off and it could get messy for the coach.

    Smith's loss is massive given he was in a contract year and primed to reverse his 2023 form slump.

    The drop in output from Jack Macrae last season is also concerning, as it left too much for Bontempelli, Liberatore and Adam Treloar.

    The recruitment of ex-Demon James Harmes and one-time first-round draft pick Nick Coffield from St Kilda will help the midfield depth.

    But the main focus for Beveridge will be what he does with his bevy of giants.

    Aaron Naughton, off the back of a staggering eight-year contract extension, is the main man in the forward half, with Beveridge set to again ignore calls to move him back.

    Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is ready to explode after kicking 35.35 goals in his third season.

    Rory Lobb was disappointing in his first season at the Dogs as the third-tall forward, but it's in defence where help is required for Liam Jones after an outstanding return to football last year.

    Young gun Sam Darcy, who only managed three games in his second season because of a variety of injury issues, is seen as the potential solution at centre half-back.

    Buku Khamis is being trialled there in the pre-season, while the Dogs also drafted another talented young tall in father-son selection Jordan Croft.

    BIGGEST IMPROVER IN 2024?

    Almost from the moment he arrived at the Whitten Oval, Sam Darcy has been talked about as something special.

    Unfortunately the 20-year-old's body hasn't allowed him to have a run at it, with just seven games in his opening two seasons.

    At 205cm, Darcy can play ruck, forward or in defence.

    Given the Dogs issues in the back half, there is a sense that is where he will be used in 2024, with the option to be thrown forward to turn the game should the need arise.

    X-FACTOR

    The early mail has No. 6 draft pick Ryley Sanders already in the frame for a Round 1 debut. The highly rated inside midfielder whose penchant for wearing his socks up like Port young gun Jason Horne-Francis is exactly what the Bulldogs need.

    With Smith out injured, a new fresh spark is required in the middle of the ground and by all reports the Tasmanian teenager has all the attributes to make an immediate impact.

    COACH STATUS

    Luke Beveridge signed a two-year contract extension at the end of 2022 which will have him at the helm until the end of 2025.

    The Dogs ordinary season had questions being asked about his status, but the focus at the Whitten Oval has been to get better help around him.

    Ex-Cat Matthew Egan comes in as coaching and performance manager, while former West Coast assistant coach Daniel Pratt will take charge of the backline.

    IN LAST YEAR OF CONTRACT
    Alex Keath, Bailey Smith, Buku Khamis, Charlie Clarke, Dominic Bedendo, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Jason Johannisen, Jedd Busslinger, Lachie McNeil, Lachlan Bramble, Rhylee West, Riley Garcia, Taylor Duryea, Tom Liberatore, Tim English.

    OUTS FROM 2023

    Josh Bruce (retired), Hayden Crozier (delisted), Mitch Hannan (delisted), Robbie McComb (delisted), Toby McLean (delisted), Tim O?Brien (delisted), Cody Raak (delisted), Roarke Smith (delisted), Jordon Sweet (trade, Port Adelaide)

    INS FOR 2024
    Lachie Bramble (SSP, Hawthorn), Nick Coffield (trade, St Kilda), Jordan Croft (No. 15 draft pick, father-son), Joel Freijah (No. 45 draft pick), James Harmes (trade, Melbourne), Aiden O?Driscoll (No. 55 draft pick), Ryley Sanders (No. 6 draft pick), Lachlan Smith (No. 47 draft pick)

    WESTERN BULLDOGS FIRST SIX
    Rd 1: Melbourne @ MCG (L)
    Rd 2: Gold Coast @ Mars Stadium (W)
    Rd 3: West Coast @ Marvel (W)
    Rd 4: Geelong @ AO (W)
    Rd 5: Essendon @ Marvel (W)
    Rd 6: St Kilda @ Marvel (W)
    (Prediction: 5-1)
    Western Bulldogs Football Club "Where it's cool to drool"

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  3. #2
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    Re: How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024?s ?most intriguing? side?

    WESTERN BULLDOGS FIRST SIX
    Rd 1: Melbourne @ MCG (L)
    Rd 2: Gold Coast @ Mars Stadium (W)
    Rd 3: West Coast @ Marvel (W)
    Rd 4: Geelong @ AO (W)
    Rd 5: Essendon @ Marvel (W)
    Rd 6: St Kilda @ Marvel (W)
    (Prediction: 5-1)

    I can see us going 6-0 but I'm always the optimist when it comes to the Dogs and I don't think Melbourne will have a great year with a few disruptions going on in the back ground.
    Don't piss off old people
    The older we get the less "LIFE IN PRISON" is a deterrent...

  4. #3
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    Re: How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024's most intriguing side?

    I would have thought a review would be an ideal thing after last year, it would be a bad thing if they didn?t. As I have said before it should be done every year.

  5. #4
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    Re: How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024's most intriguing side?

    I agree with the opening sentence that we are (one of) the most intriguing of sides of 2024. Our sluggish start and poor finish book ended a frustrating and underachieving season. We have the talent on the list but didn't get that out of them but on the positive side with new coaches and players we have brought in plus the return to training at an elite facility will give the club, coaches and playing list the best chance for success.

    I'm genuinely positive about what this team is capable of achieving. We have a nice crop of youngsters and some top end experienced players. We have to deliver in 2024 so the motivation for everyone at the club should be high.
    Western Bulldogs Football Club "Where it's cool to drool"

  6. #5
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    Re: How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024's most intriguing side?

    One of the biggest issues for me is that the Dogs are one of the worst teams having a big difference between their best and their worst, for individual players, the team and within games.

    Why is this?

    Until we can fix this, IMO we will not be a contender.
    The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.

  7. #6
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    Re: How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024's most intriguing side?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dry Rot View Post
    O...
    Why is this?

    Until we can fix this, IMO we will not be a contender.
    No disrespect at all to Dom Milesi or Sam Power, both do their jobs better than well, especially Sam, but it's the current obsession with forward line height, excepting young Darcy and Croft. The key quality we should be looking at is ....

    Fill in the dots but, for me, it's young blokes with the mental ability to switch instantly from defence mindset to attack mindset, adventurism in release of the ball coming out of defence and unselfishness up forward.

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  9. #7
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    Re: How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024's most intriguing side?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dry Rot View Post
    One of the biggest issues for me is that the Dogs are one of the worst teams having a big difference between their best and their worst, for individual players, the team and within games.

    Why is this?

    Until we can fix this, IMO we will not be a contender.
    Consistency at a high level is something a lot of clubs struggle to achieve. I bumped into a player a couple of days back and asked the question about the differences between training at Skinner reserve and the Whitten Oval and based on the response I think we will see a fitter and more resilient team in 2024. The players have responded positively to the elite conditions of the playing surface and having a fully equipped gym. That gives me more confidence for the season ahead.
    Western Bulldogs Football Club "Where it's cool to drool"

  10. #8
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    Re: How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024?s ?most intriguing? side?

    The optimist in me hopes 6-0
    The cynic in me see us could be 0-6 based on our worst performances in 2023
    Like @dryrot points out , our consistency is the concern . I hope we have plugged the flaws in our 2023 brain fades , thrown out the sh*+! Start of 2023 game plan and play attacking and accountable footy. I like our new recruits and we have got some depth in ready made players in Coffield and Harms. I hope Bedendo, VDM, Gallagher, clearly , Garcia, West and Buku have breakout year

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  12. #9
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    Re: How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024's most intriguing side?

    Quote Originally Posted by GVGjr View Post
    I agree with the opening sentence that we are (one of) the most intriguing of sides of 2024. Our sluggish start and poor finish book ended a frustrating and underachieving season. We have the talent on the list but didn't get that out of them but on the positive side with new coaches and players we have brought in plus the return to training at an elite facility will give the club, coaches and playing list the best chance for success.

    I'm genuinely positive about what this team is capable of achieving. We have a nice crop of youngsters and some top end experienced players. We have to deliver in 2024 so the motivation for everyone at the club should be high.
    You were as close as anyone to the seemingly great standard of our pre-season training last year. Was their anything that stood out in your mind to explain the poor performance in the first two games?

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    Re: How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024?s ?most intriguing? side?

    I see Gold Coast as a bigger danger game than Melbourne.

    But I see the Melbourne game as the litmus test for the season.

    We beat them, we make top four for sure.

    We lose to them then top four becomes uncertain and if we lose to GC and then the Cats in sleepy hollow, it is back to the drawing board.

  14. #11
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    Re: How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024's most intriguing side?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uninformed View Post
    You were as close as anyone to the seemingly great standard of our pre-season training last year. Was their anything that stood out in your mind to explain the poor performance in the first two games?
    The constant flow of players into the rehab group was very noticeable plus Lobb getting injured just before the season started took him a long time to catch-up and threw the balance out.
    Western Bulldogs Football Club "Where it's cool to drool"

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  16. #12
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    Re: How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024's most intriguing side?

    Top 4 or don't even bother for me, time of excuses is done.
    List wants for next to nothing, it's all about game plan, coaching and motivation.
    No trademark slow starts, no barely scarping into the 8, this season needs to be a repeat of 2021 but even better, no end of season fade-out.

    I like Bevo but anything short of comfortable top 4 and I feel is time is up (I felt this after the Eagles / Hawks loss last year, but am backing him in one more time)
    "Its always good to win the Ashes test match'' - Libba, AFL Grand Final, 2016

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  18. #13
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    Re: How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024's most intriguing side?

    I don't see any excuses and a 6-0 start is there based on the fixture.

    We need to be on from Round 1 and a win over Melbourne can set the momentum in place.
    If we don't come up and lose that we are more likely to lose to Gold Coast in round 2 and be plating catch up for the remainder of the season.
    Life is to be Enjoyed not Endured

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    Re: How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024's most intriguing side?

    I hope we see a little more of a "battle hardened" side this year that approaches the game with the right mentality. I'm not of the opinion that we are mentally soft as some dogs supporters like to say, but I definitely think we lack that killer edge that you need to be a top side. Brisbane in the early 00s, Geelong's 3 flags, hawks 3 peat, tigers of the last few years had an obvious win at all costs mentality.

    It's time we start to win big against the weaker sides, and fight hard for 4 quarters against other finals hopefuls. We very rarely put the foot on the throat and then push when we have a 5 goal lead, and it's cost us a few times.

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  21. #15
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    Re: How will Western Bulldogs fare wearing tag of 2024?s ?most intriguing? side?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uninformed View Post
    But I see the Melbourne game as the litmus test for the season.

    We beat them, we make top four for sure.
    I don't know.

    Last year Brisbane lost in Round 1 - went OK. Essendon had a 10-goal win. Terrible year for them.

    Too much is put on Round 1...I mean, Collingwood beat the Cats but all the 'vibe' about the Cats was that they were a good side, unlucky to lose a close one...nope, they were no good. Tiges and Blues drew in a quite honestly appalling game of footy...as it turned out, Richmond were a terrible side. And Carlton were quite good...

    I'm not fussed what happens in week 1. Gotta let the butterflies settle and get the season underway...
    What should I tell her? She's going to ask.

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