No one at the Western Bulldogs is mentioning finals but the AFL club’s 72-point belting of Brisbane has them firmly on that trajectory.
Luke Beveridge’s side returned from the bye on Saturday night in a relentless mood, kicking 22 goals to post their biggest score in four seasons.
The Bulldogs, which finished 14th last season, climbed to ninth place with the win and are on track for a first September campaign in five years.
But with only half the season done, Beveridge has warned against casting too far ahead.
“We’re not talking about it,” Beveridge said.
“If we move up one or two spots it’s where we deserve to be and we continually try to push the boundaries to climb up there.
“But we’re definitely not talking about (finals) because there’s just too much ahead of us.”
Competition for the bottom end of the eight is red hot, with the Bulldogs one of five sides a game behind the sixth-placed Giants on seven wins.
They’re joined by Adelaide, Richmond, Geelong and North Melbourne in a likely race for three finals places.
It’s remarkable company for the young Bulldogs to be in, with 11 of the victorious Bulldogs side aged 22 or under.
The 20-year-old Jack Macrae was one of several candidates for best afield against the Lions with 34 disposals, a career-high 17 of them contested, 8 clearances and 6 inside 50s.
Macrae relished the Bulldogs’ nine-goal last term which helped to polished off the Lions.
“We responded when they came at us hard in the third quarter and really ran over them,” he told AAP.
“It’s what the great teams do, which is what we’re trying to become.
“It’s an exciting 11 weeks ahead and we’re going to take it as far as we can.”
Both player and coach also sang the praises of maligned key forward Tom Boyd, who earned his first four-goal haul in AFL footy.
“He’s a young player finding his feet and what Tommy does doesn’t always show up in the stats sheet so its great to get the reward,” Macrae said.
Beveridge said it was nice for Boyd to “get the monkey off his back”.
“He’s had one or two sliding doors moments in games where he should have kicked two or three in first quarters,” he said.
“Tonight he capitalised … three goals is good and four is even better.”