The Western Bulldogs were the Cinderella story of the 2015 season and the glass footy boot so nearly fit against Adelaide on Saturday night.
The fairytale looked set to continue when the resurgent Bulldogs took the lead late in the final term, only to be ended by a stunning last-minute Crows’ comeback.
After a tumultuous off-season, first-year coach Luke Beveridge worked wonders just to get his side into an elimination final but they’re not satisfied with their brave showing in the seven-point loss.
“Looking at the boys now – it’s burning,” defender Shane Biggs said from the rooms after the match.
“We’re not happy that we just got here – it’s definitely not enough and we know that.
“We’ll get confidence from this, I think.
“We’ve bonded well. The group’s so tight … we’re looking forward to next year.”
One of the main question marks going into the match was how some of the younger Dogs players would handle the increased intensity of a final but most answered that query emphatically.
The same lightning-quick transition play that has won them so many admirers this season was on display for large patches of the game only for the inaccurate Bulldogs to let themselves down in front of goal with a costly return of 14.18.
“(The intensity) definitely goes up a notch, the pressure was hot, but I think we handled it well for a lot of the game,” Biggs said.
“But we were a bit wasteful and that was the difference in the end I think.
“We went away from the game plan a bit at times and they got on top of us.
“On reflection we’ll be happy with parts of the game and how we handled that pressure then how we got on top.
“(But) it’s just a really flat feeling. It’s really hollow. We’ve had a decent year but to not win this is such a shame.”