Luke Beveridge says there was “nothing but positives” to come from the Western Bulldogs’ fighting seven-point NAB Challenge defeat to Melbourne in Ballarat on Saturday.
The Bulldogs took an inexperienced side – missing the likes of Robert Murphy, Jordan Roughead, Luke Dahlhaus, Liam Picken and Tom Boyd, who was managed with hamstring tightness – to Eureka Stadium and were blown off the park in the opening half.
The Demons booted eight goals to one and dominated possessions 220-109 and the inside 50 count 25-12. Ayce Cordy kicked the Dogs’ only goal to halftime, but a “few adjustments” at the long break sparked a stunning turnaround. Led by Marcus Bontempelli in midfield, the Dogs surged from 45 points down and nearly produced a miraculous win in front of a vocal crowd at their new home-away-from-home, Eureka Stadium.
Speaking post-match, Beveridge said he looked at the second-half turnaround as a huge positive. “Yeah, I definitely do,” he said. “We learnt a couple of things today about ourselves and adjustments we made need to make from time-to-time and we had to make some.
“Obviously they dominated on the scoreboard and in possession … so we needed to change a couple of things which, credit to the boys, they did really, really well. “There was nothing but positives to come out of the game for me.
“With six boys playing their first games of senior footy – who all contributed at different times – and our more experienced guys to see how they picked up in the second half it was just a great blend of everyone contributing.”
Beveridge said the seven draftees the Dogs blooded showed encouraging signs in their first hit-outs without a significant amount of senior player support. “They deserved to play today and we saw some great signs from all of them,” Beveridge said. “I think that will help them and maybe hasten their maturity a little bit.”