The Western Bulldogs’ season has been a weird one. So much promise, but ultimately let down. But there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel, for a team who won the flag just three years ago, seeming to slowly be on the rise back to their best football.
The Dogs are currently 4-7, but to be fair to them, it hasn’t been a bad 4-7. They are one of the only teams in the bottom half of the ladder that I can see making a late push for the top 8.
Their four wins have included a romp over Richmond, a huge comeback against the Hawks, a thriller in round one and a win over Brisbane, who are currently sitting just outside the top four. They also tested Collingwood in a game they could have stolen. But this has been surrounded by losses to the Suns at home, North Melbourne in a game they should have won, and a smacking by Carlton. They win at least two of those, they’re in the eight.
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What’s gone right
These wins and losses form the basis of what has gone right and what has gone wrong for them. It has been complete inconsistency, but they are still a threat in my opinion. They have been able to develop plenty of youngsters, and they have one of the most promising players in the AFL, Aaron Naughton. We’ll get to him a little later. They also have one of the most improved players in the competition, Caleb Daniel – a man who has revolutionised what it means to be a half-back. Their Tom Boyd issues have now gone and they can focus on bringing up forwards to replace him, something they will hope to do with Josh Schache. Their recruitment of Sam Lloyd and Hayden Crozier has also been a huge positive. The Bont is also in near career best form, which means good Bulldogs footy.
What’s gone wrong
But they haven’t been able to provide much consistency to their fans. They have shown so many signs, and they know if they can get on a roll, they could be a force. Their Tom Boyd venture is all but done, but I still say it was a success. But other injuries to Dale Morris and Josh Schache have put them behind the 8-ball a little.
Aaron Naughton has burst onto the scene as one of the most exciting players in the AFL. His performance in their win against the Tigers was one for the ages, as he went close to Wayne Carey’s contested mark record. The question was whether that was a one-off game, or whether he could play with that endeavour and polish on a consistent basis. He hasn’t played like he did against the Tiges every week, but he is impressing the whole AFL world with every game. Marcus Bontempelli has been outstanding, but Naughton is putting bums in seats!
The run home for the Dogs isn’t easy, but I would expect them to win between 5-7 games. 10 or so wins wouldn’t be ideal, but it is probably where they are at right now. This will give them and their fans a sense of excitement for the 2020 season. I have marked wins against Carlton, Melbourne, St Kilda, Fremantle and Essendon. There are a few others in there that they could scalp!
Mid Year Grade
Overall, despite the negative record, the Dogs have been great value this season. They are playing above where many thought they’d be, and are looking good for the upcoming seasons.