The Western Bulldogs are finding new ways to win in 2016, but forward Luke Dahlhaus predicts a carbon-copy AFL arm-wrestle this weekend against Collingwood.
The Bulldogs enjoy their first home Friday night match for four years when they open round 21 against the Magpies at Etihad Stadium.
If last year was all about high-speed scoring, this campaign has been when the Bulldogs have found the brakes.
Last weekend’s win over North Melbourne was a case in point; the Bulldogs kept the Kangaroos to just 47 points and claimed a 14-point win.
Dahlhaus said the Bulldogs took pride from grinding out the tough ones and expected no different against Collingwood under the Friday night lights.
“If you look at how well they’re tackling and their pressure, it’s probably going to be pretty dour,” he told AAP.
“It should be one of those games like last week against North; really high tackles and high pressure.
“Hopefully we can find a way again, play the footy that we have been and get a good win.”
That’s been the story of the Western Bulldogs in 2016; adapt as needs must.
Whether it’s been injuries or game style, the Bulldogs are the chameleons of the league.
A stretch of injuries, many of them major, have forced the Bulldogs to dig deep into their player stocks.
They have fielded 37 players in 2016, the most of any AFL finals contender.
Dahlhaus confirmed what many Dog-watchers have suspected all season, there’s less of an emphasis on speed in Luke Beveridge’s second campaign at the helm.
“Teams have got so many scouts and opposition analysts that you’ve got to find new ways to get through defences and to defend yourself,” he said.
“The interchange changes probably had a little bit of an impact on us and the way we moved the ball too. We probably had to go a bit slower and at times defend a bit better.
“And our defence has been pretty good. We were rapt to keep North Melbourne to 40-odd last week.
“Our scoring has been a work in progress all year. We’re slowly getting better, getting that fluency.”
In their last match, Dahlhaus starred with 37 possessions and a goal.
Matthew Suckling is expected to return against the Pies, who will put captain Scott Pendlebury through a late fitness test to play.
If successful, the Bulldogs would record a fourth-straight win over Collingwood for the first time in 70 years.
Dahlhaus said the club would love to do that on the brightest stage in footy.
“We don’t get many opportunities on a Friday night,” he said.
“But it shows how well we’re going and how we’ve built a lot of respect over the last year and a half.”
“We’ve built up that respect and we’re getting rewarded for it.”