Dogs to enter AFL finals in great shape - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dogs to enter AFL finals in great shape

By Sam Lienert 26/08/2009 08:30:51 PM Comments (0)

Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade says the AFL club is poised to enter this year's finals series in better physical shape and in better form than last year.

The Bulldogs could be almost at full strength for Sunday's last regular season match against Collingwood.

After Daniel Giansiracusa and Shaun Higgins returned from injury against Geelong last weekend, Daniel Cross is ready to come back from ankle surgery against the Magpies.

Fellow midfielder Ryan Griffen (hamstring) could also return.

"Griff has just got a little bit more to do, because it's a Sunday game it gives him a chance to play," Eade said.

"He's probably about 90 per cent but having said that we won't risk him if there's any doubt at all."

He will definitely be fit for the opening weekend of finals, which would leave defender Tom Williams (foot) as the only player unavailable.

It contrasts with the same stage of last season, when knee injuries hampered stars Robert Murphy and Adam Cooney.

"Both Murph and Coons entered the finals series really under a cloud, obviously Adam had fractured his kneecap at that stage," Eade said.

"So we're better off physically, there's no doubt."

The formline is also considerably better, with impressive wins over Brisbane and Geelong in the past two rounds.

Last year the Dogs limped in with just two victories in the last seven rounds and were thrashed by eventual premiers Hawthorn in their opening final.

The Magpies are in a similarly buoyant state, having won 12 of their past 13 games and with no injuries of note.

In contrast, the top two sides, St Kilda and Geelong, have both tailed off in form late in the season.

But Eade was cautious when asked the value of approaching September in better touch than the two clubs which have been viewed throughout the year as the main premiership fancies.

"Last year maybe our form going into the finals wasn't great, we got belted round one (of the finals), but our next two games were pretty good," he said.

"So you'd say our finals series we played OK, but going into the first game we played poorly.

"I would have thought (good form) certainly helps, it doesn't hurt.

"But if you've lost a couple of games or had a couple of players out and form's been up and down, I don't think it's a huge concern for good teams, because they know they can play well."

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