As frustrating as Friday night’s 16-point loss to North Melbourne was for the Western Bulldogs, it could prove to be an important building block for Luke Beveridge’s young side.
In their first Friday night encounter in nearly four years, the Bulldogs came up short against the ladder leaders in a 9.7 (61) to 6.9 (45) loss in front of 47,622 fans.
The Dogs were in second place heading into the clash with four wins and one loss, but couldn’t break down a miserly Roos defence, despite having 10 more forward 50 entries.
“At times we looked like we were going to pop through and destabilise their defence and it just didn’t happen … it was an ‘almost’ game for us,” Beveridge said.
“So there’s a few things to be disappointed about, in that we felt like it was right there for the taking in the last quarter, but at no stage did we just get that goal to give us a sniff.
“So it was a bit frustrating.
“(But) it’s not the last piece of our puzzle … we’ve still got a long way to go.”
Beveridge was pleased his side kept the most potent attack in the AFL to just nine goals – the first time they’d scored fewer than 100 points this season – despite the losses of important defenders Bob Murphy, Jason Johannisen and Matt Suckling.
The coach dispatched onballer Lachie Hunter to help out down back after quarter-time and he responded with a 44-possession game.
“We felt we needed a bit of a better balance, some creativity and run and he gave us that … I felt he was quite outstanding,” Beveridge said.
“That back end has changed quite significantly now and … (it will) probably be a week-to-week building-block type of thing because they need to play together with some kind of continuity.
“They did really well in the end.
“To keep them to 61 points, they’ve been scoring quite heavily, so that’s a positive.
“But we’re disappointed on the other end of it we couldn’t kick a score.”