Bulldogs enter finals in good shape - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bulldogs enter finals in good shape

By Adam Cooper, Roger Vaughan and Guy Hand 30/08/2009 09:53:10 PM Comments (0)

The Western Bulldogs will enter an AFL qualifying final chock full of confidence after Sunday's 24-point win over Collingwood.

The Bulldogs' 14.16 (100) to 10.16 (76) win put them in third spot, a slither of percentage ahead of Collingwood, and booked a clash against Geelong at the MCG on Saturday.

Collingwood will play minor premiers St Kilda at the MCG on Sunday in the other qualifying final.

The Saints finished two games clear atop the ladder after accounting for bottom side Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday, 17.12 (114) to 10.7 (67).

In the two elimination finals, Adelaide will host Essendon (Friday night) and the Brisbane Lions are at home to Carlton (Saturday night).

Amazingly, spots three and four were still undecided entering the final minute of the last home and away game of the season.

But Brad Johnson's fourth goal put the Bulldogs on a percentage buffer ahead of Collingwood, which capped an excellent last three rounds for the Doggies, who also impressed in wins over the Lions and Cats.

Although the Bulldogs will concede a longer recovery to Geelong, their form line is much better than this time last year, when they limped into the finals with three losses from the last four rounds and were spanked by Hawthorn in the qualifying final.

"Certainly heading into the finals series, the form line is good, the belief is good, and I think it was an ideal preparation for us to play three quality teams heading into September," Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade said.

"We didn't get any injuries today, (ruckman Ben) Hudson will be back and (utility Ryan) Griffen will be available, so we're just about a full book.

"From that point of view, it's been as good as we could expect."

Eade said there was no discussion of trying to win by more than 22 points until the Bulldogs were within reach.

"I looked up and we were three goals in front with five minutes left, and we started chipping the ball around the back half, which was frustrating," he said.

"The message went out to take the game on, and actually trying to win by four goals was better for us."

But Eade stressed there was no relief in drawing Geelong over St Kilda, as the Cats had been the stand-out side of the three-year period, whereas the Saints were the best side this season.

St Kilda coach Ross Lyon was also content with how his side will enter the finals, as they overcame a sloppy start to kick clear through Nick Riewoldt's six goals.

"The bottom line is we're 20 (wins) and two (losses) for the year, we've got great confidence in our game plan, our personnel are fit and available and we're in really good shape," Lyon said.

"It's certainly not perfect, but we've got some confidence.

"We certainly understand those past results mean nothing.

"But it gives us a home final in Victoria. What more can you ask for?

"From there you've got to take the challenge on and it's going to be about character, persistence and intensity, and taking your opportunities, and there's a little bit of luck as well."

Essendon grabbed the last place in the finals by beating Hawthorn by 17 points at the MCG, but face an anxious wait on captain Matthew Lloyd, who was reported for rough conduct on Hawk Brad Sewell.

Adelaide booked a home final by blitzing Carlton by 72 points at Etihad Stadium, with the highest score of the season: 27.14 (176).

The Lions also secured a home final by beating Sydney by eight points at the SCG.

Geelong beat Fremantle by 40 points, North Melbourne pipped Port Adelaide by four points and West Coast thrashed Richmond by 80 points.

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