Emerging forward Aaron Naughton says he breathed a sigh of relief knowing the Bulldogs had secured a finals berth with their round 18 win over Fremantle.
Naughton, who suffered a depressed cheekbone fracture after a head collision with Docker Sean Darcy late in the second term, said he was eagerly tuning into the match on his phone.
“I had a bit of a sore head, but I was watching the game on my phone in the ambulance and at the hospital,” the 20-year-old said.
“I sort of knew halfway through the last quarter that the boys were probably going to get the win in the end, so it was a bit of a sigh of relief knowing in two weeks’ time we’d play the first final.
“We were still waiting on scans at that time, but it was fingers crossed that everything was going to be okay.”
Naughton did recover from surgery in time to play the elimination final against St Kilda, having to don a Caleb Daniel-esque helmet to protect his face.
Despite falling three points short in that game and ending the Bulldogs’ 2020 campaign, Naughton said the run home to just make the finals was a proud achievement.
“We probably sat down as a group and spoke about the things we wanted to bring in the last month of the season,” Naughton said.
“The week before (playing West Coast in round 16) we had just lost to Geelong, and we knew the Eagles were a quality side so it was pretty intense.
“The whole (game) we were going back and forth – both teams hit the lead late trying to save the game – but good games to play in are pretty exciting, so to get the win in the end was pretty critical.
“To produce the things (we wanted to bring) in the last four rounds, and get the wins to have a crack at playing finals, was a really good achievement.”