AFL 2020: Western Bulldogs Midseason Report Card

From a disappointing opening, and reopening, to five wins in six games. What has Bozza made of the Western Bulldogs in 2020?

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for the Bulldogs in 2020 to date. From a disappointing opening, and reopening, five wins in six games had many pundits assigning them contender status. What has Bozza made of the Western Bulldogs in 2020?


Can’t get enough footy? Check out more of our Pinch Hitters Mid Season Report Cards here.


What’s gone right

When the Bulldogs click into gear there isn’t a more exciting team to watch in the competition. A team full of running power, they are top four for possessions and top two for uncontested ball. Winning margins of 24, 28, 42 & 49 illustrate just what they can do when they get their game going.

The emergence of Tim English is undoubtedly been one of the biggest success stories for the Bulldogs this season. Rucking one out, the young big man has had to endure a tough apprenticeship in recent years but is enjoying the payoff for it now. His breakout performance against the Bombers a case in point.

Despite losing the hitout count, his work around the ground was sublime and led him to career highs in disposals, clearances and to a goal. His over the shoulder tap that led to a Matt Suckling goal the kind of moment every ruckman dreams of having on their highlight reel.


What’s gone wrong

Injuries have been a curse in 2020, but one has been felt more keenly than others. The ankle injury suffered by Aaron Naughton felt like a hammer blow by the team. The forward line has malfunctioned in the absence of the young forward, with the exception of a one off six goal effort from Josh Bruce.

Of more concern however, is the teams inability to produce a ‘Plan B’ in the event of their preferred game style failing. Time and again we see that when given space they are clean and precise but when under pressure, they over possess and are forced into error. Worried into handballs this disposal type makes up 48% of their disposals in losses, compared to 42% when they win. Similarly their error rate is considerably higher too, with a clanger coming every six possessions in defeat as opposed to every 10 in victory.


Standout player

Jack Macrae

There aren’t too many players who find the ball as often as consistently as the Bulldogs Jack Macrae. So prodigious is he at collecting possessions, not even shortened quarters can prevent him. Remarkably despite the considerably shortened nature of games in 2020, Macrae still managed to collect 37 touches against Richmond in Round Eight.


Run home

Rd 10Port AdelaideAdelaide Oval
Rd 11BrisbaneThe Gabba
Rd 12AdelaideMetricon Stadium
TBCFremantleTBC
TBCGeelongTBC
TBCHawthornTBC
TBCMelbourneTBC
TBCWest CoastTBC

With four of their last eight to come against top eight opposition, they will need to claim a scalp or two on the run home to make the finals. At their best they are more than capable, can they find a way to produce it against quality opposition?


Final Grade

C-

In the eight after nine rounds is a pass but there are worrying signs. Will need to improve if they are to retain this mark at seasons end.


Can’t get enough footy? Check out more of our Pinch Hitters Mid Season Report Cards here.

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