AFL 1 year ago

Dogs defence stands up against the odds

  • Dogs defence stands up against the odds

    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Easton Wood (left) and Robert Murphy of the Bulldogs celebrate during the 2016 AFL First Preliminary Final match between the GWS Giants and the Western Bulldogs at Spotless Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

It hasn't been a good year to be a defender for the Western Bulldogs, with their backmen bearing the brunt of the club's shocking run of injuries.

Skipper Bob Murphy's season-ending knee injury headlined the extensive casualty list that also included front-line defenders like Jason Johannisen, Matt Suckling, Easton Wood and Marcus Adams at various stages.

Despite that adversity newly-crowned coach of the year Luke Beveridge managed to mastermind a defence that conceded the third fewest points in the competition during the home-and-away season.

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"This year's been a challenging one of the injury front ... we've lost some key players, which has presented some challenges," veteran defender Dale Morris said.

"The thing with Bevo is we have guys playing multiple roles as well, so we've had some midfielders and some forwards come and play down back.

"We've had guys who have just had to spend some time down there.

"And with our VFL team we've been able to play guys in different positions and train them up, so when they came in they knew exactly what was expected of them.

"It's been a key reason why we are where we are."

Morris and fellow veteran Matthew Boyd have been vital to that success, avoiding the injury curse to anchor Beveridge's back six.

Morris, who will likely get the big job on Lance Franklin in the grand final, paid tribute to Boyd who earned a third All Australian nod for his stellar season.

"Over the past couple of years it's been great to have that added experience down back," he said of the former top-line midfielder.

"He's just embraced the role and done some really nice things in the back half.

"He's been great."

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