Coach praises Wood’s ex­cel­lent per­for­mance

Kalgoorlie Miner - - SPORT - Western Bull­dogs’ Eas­ton Wood, pic­tured tak­ing a mark over Port Ade­laide’s Paul Stewart, is in con­tention for All-Aus­tralian hon­ours af­ter a string of top per­for­mances.

Western Bull­dogs coach Luke Bev­eridge hailed the play of in-form de­fender Eas­ton Wood af­ter his side held off a late chal­lenge by St Kilda on Satur­day night to win their tight AFL clash by six points.

Wood, 25, has put him­self in the All-Aus­tralian con­ver­sa­tion with a string of ex­cel­lent per­for­mances this sea­son, play­ing ar­guably his best game this year with 22 pos­ses­sions and 13 marks in the thrilling win.

Af­ter es­tab­lish­ing a 21-point lead in the fi­nal term, the Dogs were put un­der siege as the Saints stormed home, with Wood a key fig­ure with some piv­otal in­ter­cept marks.

“He’s off the charts with the way that he’s play­ing,” Bev­eridge said.

“I just said to the group that I didn’t re­ally want to sin­gle any­one out but I was tempted to sin­gle him out.

“I wanted to talk about our back end as a col­lec­tive but re­ally some of his work tonight — it’s been great all year, it’s been bench­mark stuff — but tonight was off the charts.

“His tim­ing is im­pec­ca­ble at the mo­ment, whether he’s mark­ing or spoil­ing or what­ever it may be. He re­ally kept us in the game.”

The Bull­dogs’ back six had plenty of work to do with St Kilda go­ing in­side for­ward 50 on 11 more oc­ca­sions but their des­per­a­tion, fol­low­ing the ex­am­ple of Wood and skip­per Bob Mur­phy, was a telling fac­tor

he Dogs recorded their low­est win­ning to­tal of the sea­son in the gritty, hard-fought vic­tory with Bev­eridge de­lighted that his usu­ally free-flow­ing side were able to find a dif­fer­ent way to win.

The re­sult moves the Bull­dogs back in­side the top eight af­ter a mid-sea­son lull, with matches against lowly Carl­ton and Gold Coast to come in the next fort­night.

Those fix­tures present the Dogs with an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity to es­tab­lish them­selves as gen­uine fi­nals con­tenders, but Bev­eridge is quick to hose down such talk.

“We’ve got our­selves in a po­si­tion where we can re­ally cap­i­talise and forge ahead and see where we end up,” he said.

“We’re not talk­ing about the ‘fword’ (fi­nals), be­cause you’ve got to earn that right at some point, but we’re not there yet and there are so many chal­lenges ahead.”

St Kilda suf­fered a blow hours be­fore the game when vet­eran de­fender Sam Fisher sus­tained a back in­jury while bending over to pick up some laun­dry.

The Saints risked a fine by bring­ing in Luke De­laney, who was not a listed emer­gency, but coach Alan Richard­son was hope­ful his club wouldn’t re­ceive a fine from the AFL given the ex­ten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances. AAP

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

Ade­laide Crows’ Pa­trick Danger­field, pic­tured be­ing tack­led by Bris­bane Lions’ Dayne Zorko, is hot prop­erty.

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