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The Bulldogs are about to announce themselves

You’d be hard-pressed to find a footy fan that hasn’t enjoyed the way the Western Bulldogs have played since the start of last season.

Blessed with a team full of run and smart kicks, the Bulldogs move the ball at breathtaking speed – particularly under the closed roof at Etihad Stadium.

Last year, they stunned everyone by making the finals, given the off-season departures of star midfielders Ryan Griffen and Adam Cooney and Tom Liberatore’s serious knee injury.

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They always looked vulnerable at the back in 2015, though, and Adelaide exploited that in the elimination final, kicking 16 goals at the MCG to end their brave run.

Under ex-Hawthorn defensive coach Luke Beveridge, the Dogs have clearly spent the summer working on their back six.

And two weeks into the 2016 season, they’ve conceded just 10 goals – a statistic made more staggering by the fact both have been played at Docklands.

A true test of their improvement will come against the three-time defending premiers, Hawthorn, who flexed their muscle last week after a first-up loss to Geelong.

The Hawks’ ferocity at the contest and kicking gave West Coast no chance – but that was at the MCG.

The Bulldogs are irresistible at Etihad Stadium, where they play their first seven games this year and that will lead to victory – and ensure the Bulldogs are the talk of the footy world on Monday.

The Weekend Preview

Must watch

Port Adelaide can't afford to lose again this week. Photo: Getty

Port Adelaide can’t afford to lose again this week. Photo: Getty

Sydney v Greater Western Sydney. This ‘rivalry’ is only nine games in, but as GWS get more competitive, it should grow into something special. The Giants were superb last week and Sydney have won two from two – this will be great.

Most at stake
We’ve heard Port Adelaide “will never give up”, but they did last week. Port can’t under-estimate Essendon on Friday – the Bombers are up and about. If Port lose this, they can rule out finals football.

Will happen

Hawthorn to meet their match this week. The young pups of the Bulldogs will be up in Hawthorn’s faces with plenty of pressure footy. They’ll run hard at both ends – and win.

Won’t happen

Hawks defender Josh Gibson won’t add to his goal tally in the brown and gold. The 32-year-old, who did as he pleased with 44 touches against West Coast, also kicked his first major in 127 games for the Hawks. He’ll be busier this week.

One to watch
West Coast’s Lewis Jetta put in a first-up shocker for his new club. He had just eight disposals and burned it almost as many times. Sure, he can run, but what good is that if he can’t get the ball? Must improve in the Western Derby.

Trending

The biggest bloke in each side used to be the designated ruck man – but now most sides have two. The ruck duo is a thing, with Hawthorn, Geelong and Carlton the best examples. It’s a thing now.

Feeling the heat

Ross Lyon. He’s received a lengthy contract extension, but a top-four finish is drifting away rapidly. Lyon’s new game plan is getting lost in translation.

Pick me

Dumped young Giant Adam Tomlinson racked up 35 disposals, 18 marks and three goals in the NEAFL. The Giants had better get down to Bunnings and replace that door that Tomlinson just banged down.

The whisper

Who is the star midfielder that several clubs are now worried about targeting due to injury?

Don’t set the IQ
Geelong vs Brisbane. The Lions are struggling for form and fitness and the Cats will bounce back. Mow the lawn on Sunday arvo, and then check out the new Thai restaurant down the road.

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Deryk Thomas also writes for www.footyprophet.com – footy and fantasy analysis unravelled.

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