Overcoming adversity during the 2020 season and charging into the finals will ultimately fast-track the Western Bulldogs’ on-field development, according to some of the team’s senior leaders.
Despite getting off to a shaky start and finding themselves outside the top eight heading into their round 15 bye, the Bulldogs were able to storm home strong and secure themselves a spot in the finals, for the fourth time in the last six seasons.
While the result of the elimination final didn’t go their way, skipper Marcus Bontempelli was proud of the way his side fought late in the season to even get there.
“At the halfway point (of the season), we didn’t have a clear handle or a clear read on where our best football put us,” the skipper said.
“With about three or four games to go, we obviously still had a chance to play finals – we had to win all of those games, and we did.
“I think that’s really encouraging when you consider adversity and having to face challenging periods and challenging times, that a young group (like us) managed to navigate their way through that.”
Easton Wood echoed the thoughts of his skipper, while Josh Dunkley and Alex Keath recognised the group’s development.
“Our group did a really good job of rolling with those punches, and being able to take everything as it came,” Wood said.
“The first couple of games were pretty tough – we didn’t get the win that we wanted to early on, then obviously had a big break, came back and the Saints rolled us again,” Dunkley said.
“We had games where we could have won, and we didn’t just through little lapses across the quarters. In the final against the Saints, we probably didn’t play the best footy we knew we were capable of.”
In a year like no other, the support of our ?????? army has been extraordinary.— Western Bulldogs (@westernbulldogs) October 3, 2020
Thank U for sticking by us in challenging times, whether it was in your lounge rooms or in the stands ??#MightyWest pic.twitter.com/6b8jgdLtP0
“It’s incredibly disappointing, but we’ve got to look at the positives and look at our growth throughout the year,” Keath said.
The entire playing group is currently on leave, with first to fourth-year players to return to training on Monday December 7 for a two-week block.
All other players will resume training on Wednesday, January 6 2021.