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New Dogs, old tricks

Match Highlights: Bulldogs v Magpies (Rd1) Watch highlights from the Western Bulldogs season opening 14-point win over Collingwood on Friday night at the MCG.
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Zaine Cordy of the Bulldogs and Darcy Moore of the Magpies compete for the ball  during the 2017 AFL round 01 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Western Bulldogs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 24, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Zaine Cordy (pictured) was amongst a host of the Club's key defenders praised by coach Luke Beveridge for their work in Friday night's win.

With a new season comes new narratives, and the Western Bulldogs season opening clash with Collingwood at the MCG was no different. 

It’s not often these Dogs get beaten on the disposal count, clearances, stoppages and contested possessions and still take home the win, but that’s exactly what happened on Friday night.

As a result, the Bulldogs back six were under siege at times, as the Magpies went inside their forward half 62 times.  Speaking post-match, Luke Beveridge reserved praise for his defenders who were for the most part able to weather the black and white storm.

“I thought out defence was quite outstanding,” he said.

“To give them 62 entries… they probably missed a few easy ones but I thought our bigger defenders, Fletcher [Roberts], Zaine [Cordy], Easton [Wood] at times, and Moz [Dale Morris] were that dam wall for a little while.

 “[We] probably didn’t really get that back on our terms in the midfield throughout the course of the game but our efficiency was better than it normally is forward of centre.”

The Bulldogs scored 100 points just seven times last season, but were able to do it on Friday night on the back of 44 forward entries and 25 scoring shots to run out eventual 14 point winners.

And if you needed any further reminders that it’s a new season, the sight of skipper Bob Murphy and Jason Johannisen spending time up forward may have done it.

Murphy looked right at home forward of centre, reminding us that he’s been much more than just a classy half back over his career, while Johannisen was simply electrifying with 30 touches, and two goals of his own.

But the more things change the more they stay the same; versatility is a hallmark of any Beveridge coached side.

“We have got a lot of players that can give us drive off halfback — Matty Boyd, (Bob) Murphy, (Shane) Biggs, (Matt) Suckling — so we are going to have to pinch-hit in the forward line and on the wing, Johannisen told Channel 7 after the game.

While the Dogs were last night made up of some new faces in new colours and familiar faces in unfamiliar roles, what didn’t change was the team’s ability to tough it out and get the points.