Bulldogs show bite against Demons - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bulldogs show bite against Demons

Roger Vaughan 02/07/2011 11:10:55 AM Comments (0)

The Western Bulldogs' 64-point demolition of Melbourne could prove a landmark win in an AFL season where they have struggled to find form.

Two Bulldogs officials said separately after Friday night's match at Etihad Stadium that it was not just their best performance for this year, but for the last 12 months.

It had been a big week off the field for the Bulldogs, with Justin Sherman receiving a four-match ban for racial abuse and Callan Ward in the spotlight over interest from Greater Western Sydney.

Ward shrugged it all off to feature high among the Bulldogs' best.

Even more importantly for the 'Dogs, Brownlow Medallist Adam Cooney returned to top form, showing the freakish one-touch skill that has made him one of the game's top midfielders.

Coach Rodney Eade thought Shaun Higgins played perhaps his best game for the club, while Daniel Giansiracusa kicked four goals and Ryan Griffen was best afield.

Barry Hall was still hobbled with his ankle injury, but the key forward helped kick-start the team with three goals in the first half.

It was not lost on Eade that so many of his top players had played well.

"We can talk about systems, and we have changed our style a bit and we are doing some different things and its taken players a while to grasp," Eade said.

"But if you have got your good players in and your good players play well ... you can have the most crap system and you are still going to be able to play well as a team."

Cooney, Hall and All-Australian backman Brian Lake had interrupted pre-seasons because of injury and Lake remains out of the side.

Ryan Hargrave is another defender who has been injured and the Bulldogs have lacked their normal drive and creativity when bringing the ball out of defence.

So Robert Murphy has had to play almost exclusively off half-back, while Higgins' move into defence had its biggest reward on Friday night when he shut down Colin Sylvia.

But the issue for the Bulldogs has not just been personnel - one official noted they have failed to stay out of the limelight with issues such as Sherman and last year's horrible bust-up with Jason Akermanis.

Despite their problems, they are now just half a game behind Melbourne, who were eighth before this weekend.

They have a nine-day break before a massive clash against top-four side Carlton, while Melbourne have the bye.

The Demons were again left ruing their inconsistency - following two solid wins that put them into the top eight, they faded badly in the last quarter against the Bulldogs.

"Where we've found ourselves is not where we want to be and it's certainly an area that we just must get better at, and get better at quickly," coach Dean Bailey said of their inconsistency.

"We're not talking about a competitive opportunity, we're talking about a 10-goal loss.

"Six in the last quarter was a very disappointing way to finish, considering I thought in the third quarter we started to win the fundamental stats that we've been good at in the last couple of weeks."

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