Darwin trip a big one for Bulldogs: Eade - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Darwin trip a big one for Bulldogs: Eade

By Sam Lienert 10/06/2009 02:59:53 PM Comments (0)

Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade says the outcome of Saturday night's AFL clash with Port Adelaide in Darwin will determine whether the club has made a successful start to the season.

Eade described the encounter, which will be followed by their mid-season break, as a "classic eight-point game" in terms of the Bulldogs' top four aspirations.

The third-placed Dogs are one win clear of a pack of six clubs which includes the eighth-placed Power.

"After this game, if we win that I think it's been a reasonable start, if we lose it puts us back amongst everyone else," Eade said.

"We probably gained some momentum the last four weeks and started to play the way we thought we should play."

Eade said his players were looking forward to escaping the Melbourne cold when they head up to Darwin on Thursday.

But, with a 20-degree jump in temperature, it will take a significant adjustment.

"We play early at night, just after sunset, it's going to be warm conditions and nothing really prepares you for that," he said.

"We've done some heat acclimatisation in the last three weeks, which does help, we've done that the last couple of years as well.

"But it's certainly foreign to the conditions we've got here at the moment, which is obviously very cold."

The Bulldogs players have been training twice a week in a heat chamber for the past three weeks to prepare themselves.

Eade admitted that had been a risk, given it could have affected their preparation for the games in between, but said their form against Geelong, Sydney and Richmond showed they had managed.

He said players would also be advised that they might benefit from wearing sweatbands and gloves to cope with Darwin's humidity.

Forwards Robert Murphy (hamstring) and Scott Welsh (suspension) should both return, although the Dogs will travel with 23 players.

Injury-prone defender Tom Williams will not be among them, still experiencing swelling and soreness from a nagging foot injury.

But the coach said the upside of early season injury problems with Murphy, Williams and reigning Brownlow Medallist Adam Cooney was the club had plenty of scope to improve in the second half of the season.

In the past two campaigns their form has tailed off late in the year.

"Cooney's just starting to hit his straps, he's just getting a bit better each week so you'd think his second half of the season would be on the up," Eade said.

"Murphy's had a little bit of interruption, I'd like to think he's going to get better, Tom Williams is the same ... I'm certainly confident we won't drop away."

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