Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has hailed his side’s thrilling 22-point comeback win over Gold Coast as a “significant night” for the club.
The Bulldogs are now entrenched in the AFL top eight after slamming 10 goals in the final quarter – having only kicked four in the opening three – to overrun a tiring Suns outfit at Cazalys Stadium in Cairns on Saturday.
Gold Coast were dominant early and led by 37 points in the third term but the momentum clearly shifted shortly after and once things started clicking for the Bulldogs, it was game over.
Beveridge was a frustrated man as his side wasted numerous opportunities to close the gap but heaped praise on his players for their remarkable turnaround.
“Out of a really ordinary opening, we turned it into a pretty significant night for the football club and for our team,” Beveridge said after the 14.11 (95) to 11.7 (73) result, their fourth win in a row.
“We didn’t capitalise on our third quarter though, and I was just worried at three-quarter time we’d used up all our ammunition.
“For our players to continue to come on in that last quarter and do what we did was obviously outstanding.”
Liam Picken racked up a game-high 37 touches and nine tackles while keeping Suns skipper Gary Ablett relatively quiet, and Jackson Macrae’s love affair with Cairns continued with a haul of 33 possessions.
Jack Redpath kicked three goals while Marcus Bontempelli, Luke Dalhaus, Michael Talia and Jake Stringer booted two each, and along with Matthew Boyd (29 disposals), all helped turn the tide.
Instead of coasting to a second consecutive win – which looked probable for most of the night – Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade was left to rue his side’s fitness failings.
“I was surprised at their standards, surprised at their fitness levels a bit at the start of the year,” Eade said.
“We’ve improved a bit.
“But you could just see it in the end. We just really couldn’t cover the ground.
“It’s a game that we could have, should have won.”
The result came at a significant cost for both sides, with both substitutions made in the second half due to injury.
Bulldogs midfielder Koby Stevens was taken to hospital in the second quarter for x-rays on his ribs, which revealed a bruised lung.
It was far worse for the Suns, who have been plagued by injuries all year.
Key forward Charlie Dixon was substituted out of the match at quarter-time after hurting his ankle at his first contest.
He left the ground wearing a moonboot and Eade has already ruled him out of next week’s clash with Greater Western Sydney.
David Swallow (knee), Michael Rischitelli (thigh) and Aaron Hall (groin) all played out the match but picked up niggles that may put them in doubt next week.