Bulldogs prepare for test against Cats - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bulldogs prepare for test against Cats

By Adam Cooper 13/09/2008 05:16:11 PM Comments (0)

Coach Rodney Eade believes growing maturity has his Western Bulldogs better equipped to challenge Geelong in next week's first AFL preliminary final.

The Bulldogs earned a place in the penultimate weekend of the season by eliminating Sydney by 37 points in Friday night's semi-final at the MCG.

Many will consider the next assignment 'Mission Impossible', as Geelong have won 41 of their past 43 games and had this weekend off after crushing St Kilda in last Sunday's qualifying final.

But having endured a flat patch of six losses from eight games entering the clash, Eade noted the return of several important aspects in the 16.10 (106) to 9.15 (69) win over Sydney.

He said the Bulldogs' run had returned, their tackling was the best it had been in two months and they retained their composure when several contentious free kicks turned the game in the second term.

Eade also detected some strong vibes emerge during and after the game.

"To show the character they did with the way they played, to not let last week's result (a big loss to Hawthorn) engulf them with a lack of finals experience, to be able to do what they did and bounce back like that," he said.

"The fact that we earned a double chance, we proved ... we should be at least in the top four, the players didn't want to let that slip."

Afterwards, Eade noticed a different mood in the rooms to the one he encountered two years ago, when the Bulldogs won an elimination final.

"Maybe when we beat Collingwood in 2006 it was party time a bit, the guys didn't know how to handle that too well," he said.

"But I think it was reasonably subdued in the rooms (this time).

"I think they'll savour the success and take on board what they did right, but we'll certainly have our eyes on next week."

The last time the Bulldogs took on Geelong, they matched the reigning premier for a half - scores were level at halftime - but the Cats still won by 61 points.

This week, the Bulldogs look set to ramp up the underdog theme by insisting they have little to lose in taking on such a red-hot favourite.

"Anything can happen in a two-horse race, you can't beat them if you're not there," Eade said.

"Rightfully so no one will pick us, that's fine because they're a great team, but anything can happen, there'll be no pressure on us in that aspect."

Half-back Lindsay Gilbee said the win and the match in round 16, when the Bulldogs matched it with Geelong for most of the game, would give the Doggies confidence.

"Against Geelong we were competitive for three quarters and then that last quarter they kicked eight goals," he said.

"You've got to be competitive for all four quarters against them because they're a very, very good team.

"Everyone will tip them and certainly so, but we're going to go in and give it a real crack.

"I'm really looking forward to the challenge. It will be a great experience for the guys."

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