Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge used the team’s eight-point win against West Coast in Melbourne in June as inspiration for their elimination final triumph, defender Jason Johannisen says.
“He said nothing should change from that, we should just go about our business, the result will handle itself and that’s what happened tonight,” he told AAP.
The shock 47-point win was a reversal of both team’s recent formline, with the injury-depleted Bulldogs beaten by Fremantle two weeks ago – their seventh in a row in Perth – and the Eagles winning nine out of their last 10.
“The last month or so we were a bit down on contested ball. We really wanted to step that up … and our midfield was incredible with pressure and tackling. Us backs were able to read the play easier because of that,” Johannisen said.
He has waited five long seasons to play a first AFL final and made the most of his opportunity by starring in the win.
After being relatively quiet in the first half, Johannisen started dominating the half back line in a rebounding role in the third quarter.
His West Coast opponents struggled to lay a hand on the speedy 24-year-old in several exciting, hard dashes through the centre square at Domain Stadium in Perth.
He collected 25 possessions, including 16 after half time.
South-African born Johannisen moved to Perth with his family when he was eight and was raised there.
“To play a first final was really exciting. I couldn’t wait to play (on Friday night). I tried to give the boys a bit of drive off half back,” he told AAP.
“All the odds were against us, everyone tipped West Coast, which makes it even more special and we’re off to the MCG next week, which is going to be even bigger.
“Internally we believe we can beat anyone. We didn’t care what outside people thought.”