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Dogs 'hanging in' finals race, says Beveridge

Callum Twomey (AFL Media)  August 12, 2017 1:28 AM

Press Conference: Beveridge Post Match (Rd21) Watch Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge's post match press conference after his side's round 21 loss to the Giants.

LUKE Beveridge is confident the Western Bulldogs can keep "hanging in" the finals race despite their percentage-sapping loss to Greater Western Sydney. 

The Giants downed the Dogs by 48 points at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, in what could prove a costly defeat for the Bulldogs as their percentage dropped below 100 to 98.3.

In such a tight battle for top-eight positions this season, the Dogs, who started the weekend in seventh position on the ladder, could slip to 10th by the end of the round if results don't go their way.

Beveridge admitted the defeat to the Giants, which was laden with skill errors from the Dogs, could come back to hurt them, but said if the club won its next two games – against Port Adelaide next week at Ballarat and Hawthorn in round 23 – then it will still be in a strong position.

"Maybe [it could be costly], but if we win the next two we'll be pretty close, but tonight would have been a pretty handy one just to get us that leg up," he said post-game. 

Beveridge lamented the Dogs' skill errors and inability to make the most of their dominance. In the second term the Dogs recorded 22 inside-50s but could manage just three goals. The Giants booted three majors from just four inside-50s that quarter.

More clangers hurt the Dogs in the third term when they failed to kick a goal while the Giants slammed on six majors to set up their match-winning lead.

After spluttering through their 2017 campaign, many thought the Bulldogs had turned a corner two weeks ago when they outclassed an in-form Essendon with a pacy and ferocious display. However, their four-match winning streak was cut short by the Giants.

"I don't feel like we've regressed [since the Essendon game]. We're still hanging in there. The boys have had to put up with some challenges, and they're doing their best, but it's not going to help if we don't use the Sherrin well enough," Beveridge said.

He said midfielder Luke Dahlhaus "seemed OK" after being struck in the face by Giant Toby Greene's foot in a controversial incident in the third quarter that saw Greene reported for rough conduct and Dahlhaus leave the field with a bloodied face. He declined to touch on Greene's action. "I can't comment on that," he said.

The Dogs could be boosted by the return of Dale Morris from his arm injury next week, while speedster Jason Johannisen could also be available after missing two games with a hamstring issue. Mitch Honeychurch is recovering from illness. 

The Bulldogs' forward line struggled against the Giants, with Beveridge frustrated by the lack of one-on-one wins and where they were taking their shots at goal. Tom Boyd is likely to return in the VFL next week for Footscray after being on the sidelines as he deals with mental health issues, but Beveridge said it was unlikely the premiership star will be seen again at senior level this season.

"It's likely that he plays VFL footy next week. He's been back training in the full-time program the last couple of weeks so it's likely he'll have a run with Footscray.

"He's missed a lot of footy, so it'd be hard for him to slot in in the near future. His year's virtually gone I would've thought at AFL level, but who knows? It depends how much we've got left. If it lasts for another month and a half then he might be a sneaky chance, but time will tell."