- from afl.com.au
THE 2017 version of the Western Bulldogs is still a work in progress, but coach Luke Beveridge spotted some encouraging signs in the team's workman-like 20-point win over Carlton at the MCG on Sunday.
The Bulldogs' win over the Blues was just their third from their last nine starts but comes at an important juncture of the season. They are now just one game outside of the top eight.
The reigning premier kept Carlton to 40 inside 50s and 62 points, winning contested ball (139-129), the tackle count (61-58) and clearances (33-32).
It was not a complete display by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a reminder of what the Bulldogs are capable of when they are up and firing.
"We're going through our challenges but we know from week to week that if we get our systems right we're still going to be hard to beat," Beveridge said.
"We talked about handing back momentum through starting up some of those plays and once or twice actually being able to trigger some thought about what they were doing from stoppages.
"But by and large it was a pretty consistent performance for four quarters."
Beveridge said there was still plenty of work to do, especially in their ability to connect with the forwards from defensive 50 and using the ball smartly by linking up through the middle of the ground.
The Bulldogs scored 12 goals from 50 inside 50 entries and too often, bombed the ball long to Carlton numbers stationed behind the ball.
"We probably didn't function, again, inside 50 and kicked some long balls to their talls (key defenders)," Beveridge said.
"But overall we had a lot of winners which was fantastic."
Debutant Lewis Young produced a fine performance for the Bulldogs, taking nine marks – equalling the mark set by Chris Grant and Brad Hardie for the most marks taken by a Bulldogs player in his first AFL game.
Young, pick No.49 in last year's NAB AFL Draft, is the youngest player on an AFL list this season but looked as assured as anyone out there with 21 disposals and six intercept marks.
"He did really well, didn't he?" Beveridge said of Young's performance after the game.
"He was very composed. He's done a lot of work with (development coaches) Jordan Russell and Rohan Smith, and (VFL coach) Steve Grace.
"We've taught him to play in the back end in a certain way and I think that was one of the encouraging things from our defenders.
"We got back to playing as a more cohesive back six, albeit with changes in there with Bailey Williams coming in, but I thought they forged a lot of that density in our team defence."
The Bulldogs will face Gold Coast at Cazaly Stadium in Cairns next Saturday evening.