Bulldogs hang on in thriller over 'Roos - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bulldogs hang on in thriller over 'Roos

By Sam Lienert 05/04/2009 07:44:39 PM Comments (0)

North Melbourne coach Dean Laidley maintains the future is bright for his club after they lost an AFL thriller against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG on Sunday.

The Bulldogs prevailed in an entertaining wet weather slog 11.14 (80) to 9.11 (65), kicking the final two goals after the Kangaroos had narrowed a 28-point deficit to two points late in the last term.

Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade said his side's poise in the final minutes was a sign of increased maturity, given North had beaten them in their past five meetings and were proven performers in tight games.

Laidley took the reverse tack, saying North fielded an extremely inexperienced side after a major overhaul of their list in recent seasons.

"There was maybe half a dozen, maybe more, real contests in that last period of time where they actually won them and I think they won them with bigger bodies, bigger, stronger bodies," Laidley said.

He said since the 'Roos contested a preliminary final in 2007 they had lost roughly 1,600 games worth of AFL experience, with decorated veterans Glenn Archer and Shannon Grant retiring, while the club also parted with the likes of Nathan Thompson, Jess Sinclair and Leigh Brown.

Laidley said the non-selection of senior players Daniel Harris, Corey Jones and Shannon Watt in the opening two rounds was part of the strategy to get as much youth into the side as possible.

Half of the 22 fielded against the Bulldogs had fewer than 50 games experience and Laidley said the likes of midfielders Jack Ziebell and Andrew Swallow, defenders Lachie Hansen and Scott Thompson and forwards Matt Campbell and Lindsay Thomas would learn a lot.

"We haven't dropped too many close games and this is not an excuse, this is the future, this is the way that we're going and I reckon it should be exciting for our football club," he said.

"... We'll continue to go down that path, it's really exciting to (play) a team who I reckon is going to be right up there, to have a performance like that I thought was really good.

"We'll learn a hell of a lot from that, we'll really study the last five or six minutes and make sure we get better."

Eade was delighted with his team's ability to "win ugly" in conditions unsuited to their normally slick style.

Among many positives for the 'Dogs was the performance of first-gamer Liam Picken, who kept 'Roos skipper Brent Harvey quiet.

"In the past Harvey and (Daniel) Wells are players that couldn't get to the ground quick enough when they played us, they slept here overnight the night before I think, they were that keen to get here," Eade said.

"We were really keen to have someone at least sit on one of them."

Harvey also struggled in North's win over Melbourne in the opening round, but Laidley brushed off suggestions he might be feeling extra pressure in his first season as skipper.

"I wouldn't have thought so, he's fairly experienced and we'll continue to work with Boomer," Laidley said.

"If it is and that's the case, he's got enough mates around him. I wouldn't have thought so but maybe that's the case."

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