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Bulldogs still confident despite setback

By Adam Cooper 05/09/2009 07:48:30 PM Comments (0)

The Western Bulldogs insist the AFL premiership can still be theirs despite facing the daunting task of having to beat three great sides in sudden-death matches.

Saturday's defeat to Geelong in the second qualifying final at the MCG means the Bulldogs must bounce back inside a week and play the winner of Saturday night's Brisbane-Carlton clash next Friday night.

If the Doggies had time, they would dwell on a slow start and pivotal missed chances in their 14.12 (96) to 12.10 (82) loss to Geelong, a reversed result from the round 21 clash.

But coach Rodney Eade was still confident the club's second premiership was still within reach.

"Yep, no doubt," he said.

"People are pumping up Adelaide for the minute and they're going to have to play four games.

"One of the teams was going to lose today and it was a close one and I reckon if Geelong (lost) it, people would say 'Geelong can win it'.

"It makes it more difficult because you've got to play another game and you don't get the week's break, so obviously Geelong is in the box seat and whoever wins (Sunday's St Kilda-Collingwood first qualifying final) is going to be in the box seat.

"There's no doubt about that.

"But having said that, there is a bit of character amongst the group and we've shown over the last three weeks what they can deliver.

"Like the boy with the wheelbarrow, we've got the job in front of us, haven't we?"

If the Bulldogs are triumphant on September 26, they will have beaten six finalists in seven bruising weeks, having posted impressive wins over the Lions, Cats and Magpies in the last three home-and-away rounds.

But Saturday's performance lacked the polish of those games, as the Bulldogs were forced into error early by Geelong's pressure skills and the Cats forged a buffer through four goals in seven minutes.

The deficit at quarter-time was 28 points after Geelong's Jimmy Bartel goaled from a free kick paid against an unlucky Daniel Cross, who was deemed holding the ball despite having no time to offload.

The Bulldogs fought back in the second quarter and early in the third through Jason Akermanis' three-goal cameo, but the Cats' good passing again put them clear.

From 35 points down at the last change the Bulldogs had their chances, but four successive muffed shots squandered any fairytale.

"In the end, we certainly did have our chances," Eade said.

"Apart from the start, they just used the ball a bit better than we did.

"Their skills were pretty good and we just turned the ball over a little bit too much at times and some shots at goal that we should've been able to take might have made it a bit more interesting."

The Bulldogs at least have a healthy playing list, as Robert Murphy overcame knee soreness to finish as one of his side's best, along with Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney and Lindsay Gilbee.

The six-day turnaround before the semi-final means the Bulldogs will keep training light during the week.

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