Bev­eridge puts faith in Dogs

Sunday Tasmanian - - Sport - LAU­REN WOOD

MEL­BOURNE cruised to a 49-point AFL win over the Western Bull­dogs, but the De­mons hold se­ri­ous fears for star de­fender Jake Lever.

The 22-year-old took no fur­ther part in the win at Eti­had Sta­dium af­ter he twisted his left knee in the first quar­ter.

Lever did not reap­pear on the bench and was re­port­edly sent for scans on the knee, which he had re­con­structed as a ju­nior.

Af­ter a slow start, the De- mons con­sol­i­dated their spot in the top four with their sixth win in a row.

An­gus Brayshaw set a new ca­reer-high with 39 pos­ses­sions, as did Clayton Oliver with 37, as Jesse Hogan kicked five goals for Mel­bourne.

Lachie Hunter (32) and Jack Macrae (31) had plenty of ball, but it was an­other mad­den­ingly in­con­sis­tent per­for­mance from the Bull­dogs.

The De­mons had won 18 quar­ters in a row go­ing into the clash, but the Dogs ended that streak with a bright start.

The ap­petite for con­tested ball that had been spo­radic this sea­son was on show, as the Bull­dogs booted the first three goals of the game to lead by eight points at quar­ter-time.

The De­mons were rid­ing high af­ter a 91-point thump­ing of Ade­laide and they found their rhythm in the sec­ond term.

Af­ter a quiet start, Max Gawn im­posed him­self on the con­test as the De­mons roared to life, kicking five goals to one to lead by 16 points at the main break.

Luke Bev­eridge’s side was held goal­less in a mis­er­able sec­ond half in last week’s loss to Colling­wood, but Mar­cus Bon­tem­pelli con­verted from close range 30 sec­onds af­ter the restart.

Mel­bourne was not in the same for­mi­da­ble form it dis­played against the Crows in Alice Springs, but the De­mons’ eighth win of the sea­son looked in the bag from a long way out.

The Bull­dogs had won just one last quar­ter in a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son head­ing into Round 11. They trailed by 29 points at three-quar­ter time and their poor fin­ishes con­tin­ued, with Hogan boot­ing two goals for the term.

Bull­dogs for­ward Tory Dick­son also left the game in the first quar­ter with a ham­string in­jury. WESTERN Bull­dogs coach Luke Bev­eridge can see how some pre­dicted the 2016 pre­miers would face tough times in the years that fol­lowed the glory.

But he doesn’t sub­scribe to the the­ory that his team’s Septem­ber as­pi­ra­tions this sea­son are dashed.

Bev­eridge said there were “some” pos­i­tives to be taken from the Dogs’ 49-point loss to Mel­bourne at Eti­had Sta­dium yes­ter­day, par­tic­u­larly from early in the match when his team surged to a three-goal lead.

Hours be­fore the Dogs’ sev­enth de­feat in 11 games, it was re­ported foot­ball boss Chris Grant had ad­mit­ted that a post-pre­mier­ship plum­met was al­ways a pos­si­bil­ity. But Bev­eridge was adamant that his be­lief in the group had not wa­vered.

“That’s a back of­fice dis­cus­sion that may have been had,” he said. “My job and my fo­cus has al­ways got to be to get the best out of our play­ers.

“Some might have thought that way, when you con­sider how we won it, why we won it, where we won it and how it was a bit un­usual … if you at­tempt to be a re­al­ist and think about whether or not that’s sus­tain­able, I can see how the no­tion was there that maybe it was go­ing to be tough.

“I al­ways see things as glass half full and the growth is still there.”

He said other el­e­ments — in­clud­ing in­juries to key play­ers and play­ers “not quite be­ing able to han­dle them­selves af­ter the heights of win­ning it” — could have also had an ef­fect. And while there had been “some good signs”, it had not been for long enough.

Bev­eridge said what the Bull­dogs achieved in 2016 “hasn’t done any­one a favour” and af­firmed his be­lief that his team’s sea­son was not over.

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