AFL: Luke Beveridge urges Western Bulldogs to repeat dose

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge was “over the moon” at his side’s aerial dominance against St Kilda as he called on his players to replicate their performance on a tough road trip next week.

Beveridge said stringing together a run of wins, starting with a round 7 assignment against Fremantle in Perth, was the only way to quash doubts over the Dogs’ consistency after a clinical 60-point win over the Saints on Thursday night.

The coach was thrilled for star forward Aaron Naughton, who snapped a disappointing run of form to boot six goals as he, Rory Lobb and Sam Darcy reeled in eight contested marks between them while the Saints only managed four in total.

“We were pleased for (Naughton). He doesn’t covet necessarily kicking half a dozen like he did. He does all the team things,” Beveridge told reporters after the game.

“He competes like there’s no tomorrow and I love the fact he’s able to get some reward for himself … he’s such an important player for us.

“Naughts got on the end of a few and he kicked pretty straight too, which was fantastic. Our accuracy just takes the heat off a bit as far as scoreboard pressure goes.”

The performance of Lobb, who was goalless but enjoyed one of his most influential games as a Bulldog with a team-high nine inside 50s from his 14 disposals, could pose a selection dilemma for Beveridge as he prepares for the Dockers clash next Saturday.

Beveridge was unsure whether Jamarra Ugle-Hagan would make the trip after he sat out the Saints game to deal with a family matter.

“It’s a bit of an unknown at the moment, he’s got a few things to take care of back home. With these personal assignments, you’ve just got to be sensitive to the privacy of Marra and his family,” Beveridge said.

“Hopefully it won’t be too long, but it may not be this week, so we’ll wait and see.”

He praised Bailey Dale (39 disposals) and Jack Macrae (30) for their performances after both entered the game fighting for their spots in the side.

“I thought they were both really influential … it’s part of what we’re doing, we’re challenging everyone to take their games to new levels, and not reinvent themselves – for me, history doesn’t matter,” he said.

“We saw the Bailey Dale tonight as a high defender when he was first moved there, obviously he’s got an All-Australian jacket, but you’re never sure whether he can reproduce his best form.

“He was unbelievably influential, and it wasn’t just what he did with the ball, I think he had 13 or 14 intercept possessions … that’s a crazy game for a high halfback.

“I thought Jack (Macrae), his contest, his hands, his ball security, his creativity, his workmanship with the other inside mids was there, and I think we got the balance of what he was doing on the ground right tonight for him, so that’s encouraging.”

Beveridge said Laitham Vandermeer had passed a concussion test but was subbed out anyway because the Bulldogs did not want to wait until midway through the final term to activate Ryley Sanders.

He said a “real closeness” had helped the side respond to criticism against the Saints, as he reiterated that stringing wins together was now required to silence naysayers.

“We haven’t always bounced out of healthy wins as part of our growth and our maturity as a team to bounce out of a pretty impressive win, into a good account of ourselves in Perth against Fremantle next week,” he said.

“We think there’s a lot of promise in our team, and as much as our desire is to get some momentum and string wins together, we know there’s a challenge on our hands to be in that space.

“If the question marks come over consistency, it’s just a fact at the moment – the only way we can change it is to win games, or perform like we did tonight.”