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Finals-bound Bulldogs re-assess goals

By Adam Cooper 22/06/2008 09:43:04 PM Comments (0)

Now that the Western Bulldogs are assured of playing in the AFL finals they must aim to finish in the top four, coach Rodney Eade says.

Eade said the gritty 10-point win over Collingwood at Telstra Dome guaranteed his side a place in the eight and that another three wins from the remaining nine rounds would secure a place in the top four.

But he said the Bulldogs could not afford to ease off after a brilliant first half of the season - they currently sit outright second - and had to continue to aim high.

"I said at the start of the year that we needed to win enough games to make the top eight and I think we've got that now," Eade said after the Bulldogs won 15.9 (99) to 13.11 (89).

"I think eleven-and-a-half wins is going to get you top eight, so we're thinking top four now. We're re-assessing."

Finishing first or second earns sides a home qualifying final, but Eade said there would be little advantage gained if Victorian sides occupied the top three spots.

Geelong (48 points), the Bulldogs (46) and Hawthorn (44) have been the three clear best sides to round 13, while Sydney (38) are fourth.

If those sides finished in the same order, the Cats would host Sydney and the Bulldogs and Hawks would contest qualifying finals.

Eade said three more wins were needed, but was satisfied with the improvement his side had made after finishing 13th in 2007.

"As a club we've got to aim high and that's what good teams do," he said.

"We've won against good sides this year and we've also won from a lot of different situations, whether it be behind or teams come at us or we're favourites or underdogs.

"I think the group has responded really well and now that we're assured a spot in the finals, we've got to aim for a place in the top four."

The Bulldogs were well below their best against a determined Collingwood side, but lifted noticeably in the second half when they began finding targets with their kicking.

Eade said the win was attributable to the resolve of the group and its leaders, such as Daniel Cross and Matthew Boyd, who laid some crucial tackles in a tight final quarter.

Although the Bulldogs won, Collingwood's Heath Shaw was the star of the game.

The half-back gathered 31 disposals, outmarked Brad Johnson several times one-on-one and ran to the point of exhaustion as Collingwood's injuries took their toll as the game wore on.

Shaw was tagged out of the game in last week's loss to Carlton and coach Mick Malthouse was pleased with the way he responded.

"It is a learning curve for all players to come out the other end a more complete player," Malthouse said.

"Heath took a pretty good step today.

"He will get tagged again and it's how he deals with it (that counts)."

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