The Western Bulldogs are embracing their underdog status, but that doesn’t mean they don’t believe they have a realistic shot at winning this year’s AFL premiership.
The Bulldogs set up a preliminary final against Greater Western Sydney at Spotless Stadium with a stunning 23-point upset of Hawthorn, ending the Hawks’ bid for a fourth premiership in a row.
That came after their comprehensive elimination final win over West Coast in Perth, which many expected would be too big a hurdle for them given their injury issues.
“We have been underdogs the last two weeks and it’s probably something that sits well with us as a group,” Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli told Channel Seven’s Game Day.
“(But) we do have an incredible amount of belief and it came to fruition (against Hawthorn) on Friday night.
“We carry that same belief and motto with us, that ‘why not us?’ and ‘why can’t it be us?’.
“I don’t have any real answers now but hopefully the answers will come out on the field.”
It’s a different situation for the weekend’s other semi-final winners Sydney, who were the dominant team for most of the season to finish on top of the ladder.
A qualifying final stumble against the Giants put them into a sudden-death semi-final against Adelaide, but their class shone through against the Crows in a comfortable 36-point win.
The Swans now face Geelong in Friday night’s preliminary final off a six-day break with the Cats having earned a weekend off following their qualifying win over the Hawks.
“They’re going to be fresh but it’s a prelim final so anything can happen,” Swans star Josh Kennedy said.
“It’ll be interesting. It’s the first time you’ve had a (pre-finals) bye.
“We’re really confident that off the back of last night we can hopefully bring that pressure and intensity again.”
The key talking point around Sydney’s preparation will be their injuries.
Callum Mills (hamstring) and Kurt Tippett (jaw) didn’t play against the Crows and Jarrad McVeigh (calf) and Gary Rohan (knee) were injured at the SCG.
The club is expecting an update on the latter pair on Monday morning.