After a stunning second half of the season has all but secured an AFL finals berth, are the Dogs set for something special again this September?
The weekend could hardly gave gone better for Luke Beveridge’s Western Bulldogs side. Not only did they brush past the Giants on the road, but the three clubs directly above them (Fremantle, Port Adelaide and Adelaide) all lost handsomely, paving the way for them to waltz their way into the AFL top eight.
— AFL (@AFL) August 18, 2019
Now four points inside, all that’s required is a win against the beleaguered Crows this weekend at home to seal their first finals berth since their premiership year of 2016. That year, as we all know, was the fairytale to end all fairytales. The Dogs went on to break a 62-year premiership drought despite finishing seventh on the AFL ladder. So, could we see history repeat itself in 2019? After round 13, sitting at 5-8, the Dogs were $151 long shots to win the flag with Palmerbet. But six wins in their last eight games has seen them into $21 premiership chances.
Nick on the Bulldogs: "Bevo (Luke Beveridge) doesn't like the (2016) comparisons, but it's similar."
— Garry and Tim (@SENBreakfast) August 18, 2019
The value bet of September?
Of course, the Dogs aren’t in the finals yet, and need four points to guarantee their spot inside the eight. The early market has them as $1.33 to knock off the Crows who have been as poor as the Dogs have been brilliant in the last month. After losing to the Pies at home by an embarrassing 66 points, the Crows are all of a sudden $10 to finish inside the top eight after (quite incredibly) at one stage being $1.05 with Palmerbet.
But if the Dogs get past Don Pyke’s under siege Crows on Sunday afternoon at Marvel Stadium – as most are expecting them to – the experts are saying ‘look out’. Bombers legend Matthew Lloyd said their work in the contest is one of the best in the game.“They’re just a dynamic midfield now,” he told the AFL website’s Access All Areas on Monday. “Nine goals to four in the stoppages, they are coming into this finals series red hot”. Former coach Rodney Eade was also full of praise for his former club. “One thing is guaranteed, they’ll win this week,” he told RSN Breakfast. “Whoever they play in the first final, you wouldn’t want to play the Bulldogs.” That sentiment was echoed elsewhere, too:
King: I would not want to be playing the Bulldogs in finals. Do not have a bad day against this midfield group.
— Whateley (@WhateleySEN) August 19, 2019
Perhaps most impressive about the Dogs’ form is their ability to put sides to the sword. Last week against Essendon they kicked an incredible 21 goals in a row – the second most in VFL/AFL history, Then, on the weekend, they put 11 past the Giants without the home side being able to plug the flow of goals.
The Bulldogs couldn’t kick a goal for 18 Months & now they “rain” goals. In the last 2 weeks their runs of successive goals is crazy !
— Terry Wallace (@thelistmanager) August 18, 2019
While the Dogs are exciting up forward and solid down back, their real star power is in the midfield engine room. In Jack Macrae, Josh Dunkley and Marcus Bontempelli, Beveridge has at his disposal some of the competition’s most prolific ball winners who combine sharp work in close, particularly by hand (Macrae and Dunkley) with class by foot (Bontempelli).
The numbers say @westernbulldogs midfield trio of Dunkley, Bontempelli and Macrae is the best in the #AFL and, by @championdata ranking points, the 10th-ranked combination since 2003.
Read @ThePhantomSC's story and see the full list:https://t.co/BFYk5KDQA0
— The Advertiser Sport (@TheTiserSport) August 14, 2019
The Bont has certainly lit up the competition in the last month. In fact, in the last four weeks, the midfield gun has averaged 29 disposals and, impressively, almost seven tackles. His form has seen him move from $13 into $8. Is he, too, the value bet at the back-end of this AFL season?