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‘Huge challenges’ for lowly Bulldogs, says Beveridge

“We’ve got some challenges, absolutely. We’ve got some huge challenges,” Beveridge said after Sunday night’s loss.

“This period of time, every club’s going through it. We rewarded some players based on training form, some on match practice form. We’ve got a couple of boys who are a little bit behind, who will be available for GWS. But we picked a strong team and unfortunately we didn’t get it done. We’ve picked ourselves off the mat and dusted ourselves off before, but we’ve got a way to go before we find our mojo again.

“We’ve just got to remain glass half-full. You can’t look any further than next week.”

The Dogs dished off 176 handballs on Sunday night, compared to only 142 kicks.

Beveridge said the handball-happy approach had not been a plan.

“We didn’t use the ball well enough, and it felt like what we geared up for intensity-wise and contest-wise fell apart a little bit. We weren’t consistent enough with it,” he said.

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“Their pressure was pretty good. We didn’t plan to go in and have that kick-to-handball ratio but it happened. It was off the back of us not spreading up the ground well enough. It’s not something we train, but it crept into our game so we’ll need to make sure that we make it clear to the boys what the right patterns are there.”

Beveridge said former captain Easton Wood would miss two weeks with a quad injury but more promisingly, Tom Liberatore (knee), is closing in on a return after the Dogs took a conservative approach to his recovery.

Premiership player Toby McLean has been overlooked for the first two rounds, with Beveridge explaining the reasons for the versatile small’s omission.

“Toby’s made some really strong contributions over a period of time. We’ve got some very similar players playing in our front half. We’ve got to work out what that mix is and the balance of it. The players who were in tonight earned their spot.”

Mark of respect: Bulldogs' Jason Johannisen (left), Saints' Dan Hannebery and teammates take a knee before the round 2 match at Marvel Stadium.

Mark of respect: Bulldogs’ Jason Johannisen (left), Saints’ Dan Hannebery and teammates take a knee before the round 2 match at Marvel Stadium.Credit:AAP

The Dogs had been in talks about organising a practice match with the Saints this weekend but it ultimately fell through. However Beveridge said the Dogs’ reserves would take on North Melbourne’s spares in a curtain-raiser at Marvel this Friday.

The Saints have meanwhile moved to 1-1, and face Collingwood at the MCG next Saturday. Coach Brett Ratten praised captain Jarryn Geary who played an unusual role as a defensive forward, nullifying Norm Smith Medallist Jason Johannisen.

“He’s probably the best person for the job. And, yeah, he did a ripping job,” Ratten said.

Ratten added that the Saints would have a reserves practice match against the Pies this week.

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