Dogs live to fight another day after ‘crazy game’

You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from Bulldogs fans across the country when the siren rang at the Gabba on Saturday night, their team one solitary point ahead on the scoreboard.

Almost three hours of seat squirming and breath-holding came to a magnificent end, as the realisation set in that the Dogs would be heading to a Preliminary Final.

In the blur that was the final few minutes, as Dogs coach Luke Beveridge spared a thought for what might happen in the event of a draw, Laitham Vandermeer squeezed a kick through for a behind to give his team the lead.

A minute later, the red, white and blue had held on for a famous victory.

For a Bulldogs team which missed a top four spot at the hands of the Lions by the barest of margins in Round 23, maybe this was the Footy Gods squaring the ledger.

“It was just one of those games where you just had to persevere. It was a crazy game. It was an incredible arm-wrestle,” Beveridge told media after the game.

“There were instances in the game where both teams got a little bit of momentum. We just felt that someone was going to be fortunate enough to be in front at the end of the whole thing. Fortunately, it was us.

“There were times in the last quarter when we were trying to remember the detail in the email from the AFL about what happens if it’s a draw. That comes through and you think, ‘do I need to read that?”‘ Beveridge said.

“The struggle of the whole thing, it reminded me a little bit of the 2016 prelim against GWS in terms of how tense it was and how the game was in the balance.

“We were down and fought back, as did Brisbane. I saw ‘Fages’ on the boundary line at the end. Sometimes this game is really cruel, and sometimes it’s beautiful. We were the lucky ones to feel the emotions of the latter.” “

“Brisbane has been quite remarkable in recent times. To beat such a formable opponent in a big game, it ranks right up there.”

The Bulldogs didn’t unscathed from the game emerge on the injury front, with skipper Marcus Bontempelli leaving the field late with a knee injuryand Cody Weightman subbed out at half time with the head knock.

If changes to the team for the Preliminary Final are required, Beveridge believes there are replacements waiting for their opportunity to return to the senior side.

“This is what happens, with most of our list playing some AFL footy this year. Our boys have done an outstanding job and we’ve had critical role players contribute to really important victories,” he said.

“The great thing is, they’ll come into the team and feel like they’ve contributed in the past. There are some lads waiting in the wings who will come in and be an important part of our make-up.”

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