'Dogs to defend to the death - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

'Dogs to defend to the death

By Roger Vaughan 15/09/2010 04:16:53 PM Comments (0)

Defence will be the key in Saturday night's AFL preliminary final, meaning another stern test for Western Bulldogs fullback Brian Lake and his sidekicks.

One of the most impressive aspects of last week's semi-final win over Sydney was how the Bulldogs dramatically tightened up their defensive play around the ground.

It followed a worrying month where they leaked like a sieve.

Now they clash with miserly St Kilda for the right to play in the grand final and everyone knows what is coming.

In round six this season, the Saints won by seven goals to six.

In last year's preliminary final, St Kilda prevailed by nine goals to seven - so there will be no shootout on Saturday night.

"It was an area we wanted to work on this season, that defensive side," Lake said.

"That wasn't just the defensive six, that was midfielders and forwards.

"Up to the Geelong game (the Cats' 101-point win in round 20), we were the second least scored-against side in the competition.

"It's something we wanted to improve and we did that, but over the last five or six weeks we've really struggled on that defensive side.

"With that, confidence gets down and guys don't win the contested footy - it's obviously a massive area and it's something St Kilda prides themselves on.

"Hopefully we can create the turnovers and move the ball fast."

Earlier this week, Lake was rewarded for his outstanding season in defence with selection at fullback in the All-Australian team.

He will be one of the keys on Saturday night and will probably play on Saints key forward Justin Koschitzke.

Lake and fellow defender Tom Williams are clearly nursing sore spots after their collision during the qualifying final loss to Collingwood.

But as fellow `Dogs defender Dale Morris prepares to make a speedy comeback from his back injury, Lake has declared he has a fortnight of football left in him.

"The body is going okay, it could be better, but it is the third week of the finals and everyone is going to be a bit sore," Lake said.

"I'm definitely one of those guys."

Lake said the comeback win against Sydney represented a big turnaround in attitude by the Bulldogs.

"The side was down on confidence, we had a bad five or six weeks," he said.

"To get the good game, a win against Sydney, probably, hopefully, changed the momentum after halftime.

"The things we pride ourselves on, we were able to do - contested ball, spreads and contests.

"Hopefully we can take that into this week."

But the Bulldogs will start outsiders and form is against them.

They have lost the last four games against St Kilda and have not beaten a fellow top-four side for seven clashes, dating back to last year's qualifying final.

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