They’re braced for a fast and furious grand final, but the Western Bulldogs hope their grit in clutch moments can propel them past Sydney to their first AFL premiership in more than half a century.
The Bulldogs again displayed a knack for closing out close games in Saturday’s preliminary final, seizing back a one-point lead midway through the fourth quarter and extending it to six to break Greater Western Sydney’s hearts.
Next Saturday at the MCG, in their first grand final since 1961, they’ll gunning for a repeat against a Swans side readying for their third season-decider in five years.
If there’s anything in favour of Luke Beveridge’s battle-hardened squad, it’s their record for heaving themselves back from the brink.
They did so against the Swans three months ago, pipping them by four points at the SCG when Jason Johannisen scored with just two seconds remaining.
Including that round 15 clash, Sydney have lost three matches in the last 90 seconds this season, prompting questions about their ability to make it count in critical moments.
While John Longmire’s new generation have well and truly silenced any critics this finals series, they’ll be up against a Dogs team built on the resilience that’s helped them grind out six wins by 10 points or less across an injury-riddled season.
Forward Tory Dickson, who booted four goals against the Giants, said it had increased his team’s belief they could add to the Dogs’ only premiership of 1954.
“We’ve been in so many close games this year that we had full faith we could run over (the Giants),” Dickson told AAP.
“And kicking a few goals we felt like we had them roped and probably should have got a few more.
“Just the way that we stuck at it – when the chips were down we got two goals to get off the canvas and hold on.
“Now it’s a grand final so anything goes.”
Both the Swans and Bulldogs have speed to boot and rank first and second in the league for contested possessions.
Dickson expected a frenzied fixture.
“They’ve got some top players and they’re a really well-contested side so the ball is going to be really hot inside,” he said.
“I watched them (beat Geelong by 37 points) on Friday night and they played a really amazing game.
“It’s going to be a hot, contested game and hopefully we can get them on the outside.”