Hall gives Doggies better balance - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hall gives Doggies better balance

By Adam Cooper 13/08/2010 06:19:53 PM Comments (0)

Western Bulldogs utility Lindsay Gilbee believes his side is better balanced ahead of the AFL finals because of their improved use of Barry Hall in attack.

Hall's 65 goals from 18 games has made him arguably the league-wide recruit of the season and gives the Bulldogs a physical presence in the forward line they lacked in last year's finals.

The Bulldogs are getting more out of their full-forward at the right time of the season, as he has kicked 37 goals in his past nine games, whereas he booted 28 in his first nine (he missed the round-16 win over Port Adelaide).

That extra output has coincided with the Doggies' improved scoring rate, as they have been a three-goal better side from the first nine rounds, even allowing for last Sunday night's slog against Adelaide, when they won with eight goals (Hall none).

Gilbee said even though Hall had kicked more goals of late, the Bulldogs were less reliant on him than early in the season, and were now spreading the ball around.

"He's a pretty big guy and he's a focal point for us," Gilbee said ahead of Saturday night's vital game against Geelong at Etihad Stadium, where both sides will aim to strengthen their claims on the double chance.

"What was getting us earlier in the year was that we were just kicking it to Barry a bit too much and probably neglecting other players.

"Over the past five or six weeks Barry's still kicked his numbers of goals but we've got that different spread back, which is good."

Gilbee cannot pinpoint the moment it clicked for the Bulldogs, but said the emergence of young forwards Jarrad Grant and Liam Jones had created other avenues to goal.

The lack of a big forward was seen as the Bulldogs' failing this time a year ago and Gilbee is confident Hall, a premiership player with Sydney, will aid the Dogs' flag quest in 2010.

"The presence of Barry down there will help us," he said.

"But it's also up to us to deliver the ball properly to him and our other forwards and it's important we put pressure all around the ground to get the ball in our hands so we can be best value."

Gilbee was one of several Bulldogs laid down by a virus this week, which will also prevent Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney and ruckman Ben Hudson playing the Cats.

The bug affected Gilbee's performance against the Crows, but he was confident he and his ill teammates were over the worst of the virus.

Gilbee expected a fierce clash with Geelong given the Cats were disappointed at being comprehensively outplayed by Collingwood last Saturday night.

"They'll want to bounce back even though they played some good footy last week," he said.

"In a way they probably only played a quarter of good footy and got within 20-odd points, so it shows you they're such a strong team and still a big threat."

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