Western Bulldogs' Jason Johannisen makes a break against the Bombers on Sunday.
Western Bulldogs' Jason Johannisen makes a break against the Bombers on Sunday. TRACEY NEARMY

Coach talking big after Bulldogs bring Bombers down

AUSSIE RULES; The Western Bulldogs Bulldogs are almost back to their "recognisable and threatening” best, coach Luke Beveridge believes.

The Dogs ran out 30-point winners over Essendon on Sunday, despite the Bombers having been as close as six points behind with just four minutes remaining in the game.

The win put Beveridge's reigning premiership outfit back inside the top eight for the first time since Round 12.

"Everyone in this area where you're a bit below the top three or four teams, if you've got your eyes on the eight, you can't afford to slip up,” Beveridge said.

"We've had to just really focus on the next week to remind ourselves of the type of footy that we need to play to establish ourselves as a recognisable and threatening team.

"It's great that in the recent three weeks we've been able to do that, but I think we play some very good sides on the run home, so it's going to be tough.”

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge leaves the field after talking to his players during a break.
Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge leaves the field after talking to his players during a break. TRACEY NEARMY

Beveridge said while Sunday's victory was "a very good and encouraging performance”, he would have preferred to keep Essendon to a lower score.

It was labelled as the Bulldogs' best showing of the season so far but Beveridge was hesitant to be drawn into such commentary.

"It's hard to compare, it's such a long time ago when we had a little bit of momentum earlier on in the year,” he said.

"Obviously we're really pleased and happy with the performance, there's no doubt it was a manic game and (a) very turnover-oriented game.

"They play a fast, slick brand of footy with a really healthy appetite the Bombers and sometimes it's hard to defend when you give the ball back to them or let the ball spit out, because they go quickly.

"We just managed to do enough, in the end.”

Western Bulldogs forward Travis Cloke was impressive in his return against the Bombers.
Western Bulldogs forward Travis Cloke was impressive in his return against the Bombers. TRACEY NEARMY

Forward Travis Cloke made his return having not played since taking a break to deal with his mental health after Round 12, and contributed both to the scoreboard and in the ruck.

And it could present Beveridge with a selection quandary this week with Jack Redpath having served his one-game suspension.

"We just need him and Jack Redpath and our other big forwards to make sure that they're there when we need them and when we need help in the ruck and he gave that with Roughy,” he said of Cloke.

"I thought he did a tremendous job in there.

"We might have a bit of a dilemma there. It'd be hard to omit anyone from that team (that won Sunday).”

Meanwhile, John Worsfold said Essendon's season is far from dead, but conceded his side just was not good enough during its 30-point loss to the Western Bulldogs.

The Etihad Stadium showdown was billed as a mini-final.

And although they came out on the wrong end of the ledger, an inviting final month still has the Bombers in the hunt.

Essendon plays Carlton (17th) at the MCG on Saturday and also has games against Gold Coast (15th) at Metricon Stadium and Fremantle (14th) at Etihad Stadium in the run home.

Their toughest clash is against top side Adelaide. But that game is at Etihad Stadium and, as demonstrated on Sunday, the Crows are vulnerable on the road.

"We're really looking forward to the challenge of those four games,” Worsfold said.

"We talk a lot about our consistency and learning and playing good footy and we're coming along pretty well.

"Today was inviting for us playing a team that was level-pegging with us (on the ladder). It was a great opportunity to play in a pretty intense game, but we weren't good enough.

"We need to show that we're good enough now by winning what's ahead of us.”



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