Bulldogs gain in confidence: Eade - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bulldogs gain in confidence: Eade

By Guy Hand 17/09/2010 06:52:05 PM Comments (0)

The Western Bulldogs see themselves as anything but the weakest link in the AFL final four, believing the adrenaline rush of their win over Sydney last week has kick-started them towards a surprise grand final berth.

The Bulldogs limp into Saturday night's preliminary final against St Kilda at the MCG with the worst form of those left standing.

Season-ending injuries to key players Adam Cooney and Shaun Higgins haven't helped matters either.

But coach Rodney Eade has reminded his players this week while they have made a third consecutive preliminary final in vastly different circumstances to 2008 and 2009, the club is just one win away from making its first grand final for nearly 50 years.

Eade believes the key to upsetting the Saints may be the Dogs' come-from-behind win over the Swans, which has sparked the players into renewed life at training this week.

"There was a bit of euphoria after last week's win and with the character shown," Eade said.

"Each day the guys are gaining confidence.

"The players that went into last week sore are a bit better again this week, so everything indicates from our point of view the level of expectation on ourselves is up.

"Mentally we're probably in the same spot we were last year. Physically we're not. We're certainly some personnel down."

Further boosting morale is the likely return of defender Dale Morris just a month after cracking a vertebra and having his season written off.

Morris trained strongly with the team at Whitten Oval on Friday, with Eade rating the defender a 95 per cent chance of playing, though he won't make a final decision until match day.

But he denied the Dogs were rolling the dice with Morris, especially after a similar punt on Higgins in the opening final against Collingwood went horribly wrong.

Higgins' thyroid condition flared again after the match, in which he badly struggled for touch and run.

"Not the role he plays and the structure he gives us," Eade said when asked if it was a risk to play Morris.

"Even if he doesn't play well he just helps other players around him, he's a good leader.

"And he's such a competitor so I don't think it's going to be so much his fitness levels.

"It's just about the fact that he hasn't played for three or four weeks - whether his touch and that sort of thing is in place.

"But certainly from our point of view it's not a gamble."

Midfielder Ryan Griffen threw a scare into the camp at training - leaving the session early clutching at his upper leg.

But Eade insists Griffen will be fit to play.

The Saints' big query is whether tagger Steven Baker will be a late inclusion.

Baker was named as an emergency for the match - and has not played in nearly two and a half months following a lengthy suspension.

Yet there is conjecture - and coach Ross Lyon did little to hose it down on Thursday - that the Saints could have Baker in their final 22 come match day.

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