Hall-less Dogs more unpredictable - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hall-less Dogs more unpredictable

Adrian Warren 05/05/2011 06:17:36 PM Comments (0)

Sydney coach John Longmire rates the Western Bulldogs midfield as good as any in the AFL and expects them to be less predictable without former Swans champion Barry Hall.

It is a crunch game for two teams that are currently out of the top eight and another loss will make it harder for either to push for a top-four spot.

"It's a big game for us, it's a big game for the Bulldogs," Longmire said on Thursday.

Sydney will give young midfielder Nathan Gordon his first senior game and have recalled rookie defender Alex Johnson and established key back Heath Grundy.

They dropped utility Paul Bevan and ruck-forward Jesse White, with midfielder Kieren Jack ruled out for several weeks with an ankle injury.

Longmire was concerned about countering the Bulldogs midfield, but was confident Sydney were up to the task despite losing club champion Jack.

"Their midfield Adam Cooney, Ryan Griffin, Matthew Boyd and Daniel Cross are as good as any going around, so that's a real challenge for our midfielders," Longmire said.

"In particular, that we don't let them run forward of the ball and use the ball, because they are such dangerous players.

"Robert Murphy is another one that when he's up and running makes them look a lot more dangerous.

"You can't forget their contested ball, they are number one in the competition for hard ball gets, so they are not just an outside running midfield group, they are a hard as anyone going around, so they've got a really good balance and that's our challenge.

"We think we've got a good balance in there as well with Josh Kennedy, Adam Goodes and Jarrad McVeigh has played well in midfield for us against the Bulldogs before, so we are really confident we can match them in that area."

Longmire described 21-year-old Sydney product Gordon as a great athlete and competitor.

"Manuka, a big ground against a hard-running team, we need another runner to come into the team.

"Nathan's form has been really solid all year, so he was probably the next logical choice."

An ankle injury will keep veteran forward Hall, the co-captain of Sydney's 2005 premiership team, out of the game.

"Hally is a star player there's no doubt about that, he kicks a lot of goals and I'm sure they'd love to have him in their team," Longmire said.

"(But) him being out makes them less predictable. Watching them last week (against Collingwood) they certainly had a number of players jump up and kick a goal."

Longmire wanted a more consistent four-quarter effort from his team following their loss to Carlton.

"I think ten minutes into the third quarter we really stopped, so we've got to be more consistent, we've got to play for the four quarters and make sure we spread the load amongst all our players."

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