Bulldogs target Giants in finals pursuit

Lui Zacher
August 12, 2022 / 7:22 am

The Western Bulldogs will put their AFL season on the line in a clash with arch- rivals GWS they must win to keep their finals dreams alive.

While it might lack some of the usual spice associated with the teams’ heated exchanges given the Giants fell out of contention some months back, the Dogs have everything to play for at Marvel Stadium despite being six points back from eighth place.

With seventh-ranked Carlton to face Melbourne (third) and Collingwood (second) to close their season, a path to the post-season still exists for the Bulldogs.

They’ve lost back-to-back games since a stunning upset of Melbourne, but coach Luke Beveridge backed in his side to close the regular season with strength.

“We’ve talked about inconsistencies over the course of the year and we’ve searched every week … our objective is to bring our absolute best performance against another opponent,” he said.

“That’s all we can take care of, all we can control to a degree and whatever else happens around you, that happens.

“Everyone’s difficult to beat with their own volition and strengths that can really challenge you and that makes seasons open … it’s a good thing for the competition.”

Their big inclusion for the Giants’ clash on Saturday in ruckman Stefan Martin, who hasn’t played AFL since round eight dealing with a series of injuries.

Added to the side along with Lachie Hunter and Ryan Gardner, it’s Martin’s addition that could provide the Dogs a serious spark in forming a brutal one-two ruck punch with Tim English.

“(Based) off form, we really had to bring him in,” Beveridge said.

“Stef’s had a really tough year health-wise and injury-wise, it’s only over the last month that he’s really gotten on top of things.

“In his last couple of games for Footscray, he’s moved like a 25-year-old, the Stefan Martin that we’ve seen be really influential at AFL level.”

Forward Josh Bruce has been managed for the clash.

The Giants, who 6-14 on the season, announced a trio of re-signings on Friday, with Jacob Wehr, Cooper Hamilton and Callum Brown each penning one-year extensions.

Irishman Brown starred against Hawthorn earlier this season with a four-goal, six-tackle display, while Wehr has impressed in playing 10 games straight since debuting in round 10.

“We have a great group of young talent coming through at the Giants, and these three guys have all shown what they can do when given the chance,” GWS footy boss Jason McCartney said.


Image: Western Bulldogs star Bailey Smith has re-signed with the club earlier this week. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)