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Season review: Western Bulldogs

with Ryan Davidson (AFL Media)  October 5, 2016 11:33 AM

AFL 2016 Toyota AFL Grand Final - Sydney v Western Bulldogs

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01: Easton Wood of the Bulldogs (right) and Robert Murphy of the Bulldogs bring the cup into the rooms during the 2016 Toyota AFL Grand Final match between the Sydney Swans and the Western Bulldogs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 01, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

In a nutshell
Written off at several times this season with a near-crippling injury toll, the Dogs kept the faith and defied the naysayers to break the game's longest premiership drought and give the club's lone 1954 cup some long overdue company. 

What we said in the pre-season 
The experts were split on whether the Dogs could even make back-to-back finals series, and not one tipped them to be premiers. The jury was still out on this exciting, but developing side. 

What worked
Unwavering belief. When the football world said the cumulative effect of numerous injuries would eventually wear them down, the Dogs never lost faith in their system and capabilities. Luke Beveridge's systematic and communal approach was perfectly tailored for such an even group.

Overall rating
When you've overcome the adversity the Dogs did this season, Luke Beveridge and his boys are the duxes of the League 

The coach
A premiership coach in just his second year at the helm makes Luke Beveridge arguably the best coach in the competition. The 46-year-old has proven he's an astute tactician, but also a brilliant man-manager, and these attributes were rewarded with back-to-back AFLCA Coach of the Year awards. Locked away until the end of the 2020 season. 

The leaders 
A season-ending knee injury to Robert Murphy in round three saw Easton Wood assume the mantle and the star defender did it with aplomb. Marcus Bontempelli showed he is a future captain, impressing when Wood was injured.

Marcus Bontempelli: For a player in just his third season, the 20-year-old is arguably the club's best player. His ability to win the footy on the inside and out sees him have an impact on most games he plays. Finished equal eighth in the Brownlow Medal and should claim the club's best and fairest. 

Surprise packet
Marcus Adams: Taken with pick 35 in last year's NAB AFL Draft, the 23-year-old key defender was a revelation. Held his own against some of the competition's best forwards, before a foot injury prematurely ended his season in round 15. 

Get excited
Bailey Williams: While he may have only played six games in his debut season, the South Australian midfielder showed enough to suggest the Dogs have another emerging star on their hands. The ball magnet is tough in the contest, poised and a good user of the footy. 

Best win
Grand Final: Western Bulldogs 13.11 (89) def Sydney Swans 10.7 (67) @ MCG

When you break a 62-year premiership drought, it's not only the best win of the season, but the club's biggest triumph since the 1954 flag. 

Season in a song
We can't be beaten, Rose Tattoo