The Western Bulldogs say they are unfazed by the AFL’s decision to fixture their home elimination final against Adelaide at the MCG and not Etihad Stadium.
The Dogs easily accounted for the Crows in round four on the fast deck at Etihad Stadium – their home ground where they recorded 11 of their 14 wins this season.
Despite the league’s decision to move the game to the larger MCG, the Dogs are backing their lightning-quick style to stand up in a hotly-contested final.
“If you want to go deep into finals you have to play well at the MCG – it’s the home of footy so we’re happy to play there,” Bulldogs onballer Jack Macrae said.
“It doesn’t really concern us.”
AFL chief Gillon McLachlan defended the move when he launched the finals series in Melbourne on Monday.
“We scheduled that game there because we didn’t want to be in a position where we were seeing (fans miss) out on a final when we had a venue which could carry more than the expected capacity,” McLachlan said.
“That’s why the decision was made.
“We haven’t played a final at Etihad since ’07 and we contemplate access first.”
Luke Beveridge’s side played at the MCG just twice this season – for one win and a loss – while Adelaide recorded a hard-fought win over Carlton in their only visit back in round 10.
The Bulldogs’ meteoric rise from 14th last year to sixth on the ladder at the end of the home-and-away season has been one of the stories of the year given their off-season of turmoil.
Just making the finals after losing veterans Ryan Griffen and Adam Cooney to other clubs, not to mention star onballer Tom Liberatore to injury, in Beveridge’s first year in charge is a huge achievement but the Dogs say they’re not content simply to make up the numbers.
“If we play our best footy I believe really strongly that we can beat anyone in the competition and Adelaide’s no different,” midfielder Mitch Wallis said.
“They’re a good strong opposition but I think we can get the job done.”
The Dogs aren’t without injury concerns leading up to their first final since 2010, chief amongst them Stewart Crameri who was subbed out of the weekend’s shock loss to Brisbane with a knee injury.
Bob Murphy, Dale Morris and Matthew Boyd were rested for that game, with some doubt lingering over Murphy who experienced groin soreness late in the season.