Killer instinct, momentum and belief – they’re prized intangibles that teams spend years trying to develop.
A heady fortnight in the AFL finals has given the Western Bulldogs a powerful mix of all three.
After impressive wins over West Coast and Hawthorn, the Bulldogs now head to Spotless Stadium for Saturday’s preliminary final against the Giants.
While GWS beat them at the same venue earlier this season and will start favourites, playing on the road is no problem for the Bulldogs.
They had big away wins this year against Port Adelaide and Sydney and the clash with the Eagles in Perth earlier this month was hailed as one of the greatest finals performance in club history … until the Hawthorn match topped it.
“The belief in this group is one of the most powerful things I’ve seen,” midfielder Jack Macrae said.
“Coming into West Coast, obviously no-one really gave us a chance and last week even, no-one really gave us a chance again.”
The Bulldogs showed their killer instinct in the third term against the Hawks.
After recovering from 23 points down in the second term, they put the three-time defending premiers to the sword after half time.
“Obviously the third quarter is known as the premiership quarter … once we got a sniff, we really took advantage of that,” Macrae said.
“It’s probably something we failed to do throughout the year in some games – put our good work onto the scoreboard.
“It was pretty pleasing we managed to do that.”
The Bulldogs ended the regular season with an upset loss to Fremantle.
But the pre-finals bye, coupled with the West Coast and Hawthorn wins means they head to western Sydney with a head of steam.
“The momentum behind the club is really powerful at the moment,” Macrae said
“It seems like we’ve peaked at the right time and we’ve really hit form in the last two weeks.
“The brand that we’ve been playing is probably the best we’ve played all year, which is pretty exciting.
“We don’t really have to manufacture any extra energy – obviously it’s a prelim and the aim is to make a grand final.”
Macrae admitted he had to be mindful about keeping his emotions in check this week ahead of Saturday’s clash.
“You have to be careful not to play the game out too early and be buggered once the game rolls around,” he said.