After a thrashing of Essendon continued their strong post-bye form, can Luke Beveridge’s side snatch the last spot in the AFL top eight?

After a narrow loss to Collingwood back in round 14, the Western Bulldogs’ season appeared all but over. At 5-8, it was difficult to see them cutting through the log-jam of sides fighting to make September action. At that stage, Luke Beveridge’s side were $13 outsiders to finish in the AFL top eight with Palmerbet. Fast forward to now, however, and the situation has been flipped on its head. Since then, the Dogs have won five of their last seven games, and are all of sudden into $2.75 to make the AFL finals for the first time since their premiership success of 2016. So, can they do it?

Dog day looms

Much like in 2016, the Dogs are gathering momentum at the perfect time. In kicking an incredible 21 unanswered goals against Essendon, they sent a strong message that – should they make the AFL top eight – they won’t be merely making up the numbers. Perhaps the biggest indication of their ruthless nature was that, despite the 104-point win, some of the Dogs’ defenders were filthy on themselves for letting in some junk time goals. “That’s a good sign,” Beveridge said. “It’s a very difficult thing to be ruthless in any sport. We don’t talk about that, but occasionally the word is mentioned.”

What the win most importantly did, was bridge the percentage gap on their opponents. For weeks now, percentage loomed as the key reason why the Dogs couldn’t squeeze into the eight, That is, they may finish on equal points with another side in the eight, but lose out with a low percentage. The big win certainly changes things on that front.

Beveridge believes that two wins in the final two AFL rounds will get them into September. The first of which is away to GWS on Sunday afternoon. They start as $2.31 outsiders in that one, in a game that could well be the pick of round 22. Then in round 23, it’s the Crows back at home.

Dons under the pump

It would be remiss not to look at the other side of the ledger of this story, and that’s the Bombers. Quite incredibly, John Worsfold’s side were almost nailed-on certainties just a fortnight ago for the AFL finals series. Trading at $1.02 to make the top eight with Palmerbet, it looked like the Bombers would finally get a shot at shaking their 15 year finals-win drought. Yet after consecutive humblings at the hands of the Power and Dogs, they’re now $1.80. Some are suggesting they’re mentally shot, and appear headed for an early off-season.

They still might make the AFL finals, of course. But they’ve made it tough for themselves. The Bombers likely need one win in their last two games to seal a spot. Firstly, they face a Freo side in Perth this weekend. The Bombers start as $2.67 outsiders in that Perth Stadium clash. Then it’s rivals Collingwood in a Friday night blockbuster to close out the season in round 23. It’s all to play for, and they’ll need to turn things around quick smart.