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‘Hit a flat spot’: Stifled Dogs need momentum before AFL finals, says Beveridge

Ruckman Stefan Martin is a chance to come into the Western Bulldogs line-up for next week’s final-round clash with Port Adelaide, as the “spluttering” Dogs search for momentum before the finals.

Coach Luke Beveridge said the ease with which Hawthorn walked out of centre stoppages on Saturday was his side’s most worrying concern, just six days after the Bombers did the same against the finals-bound Dogs.

Beveridge said his side’s season has now been “stifled”, and they faced a challenge to find their best footy.

With a top-two spot on the line, the Dogs were a shell of themselves, going down to Hawthorn by 27 points in Launceston on Saturday.

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“There was a bit at stake. We’ve put a bit of a price on this, being able to control our own destiny and being able to secure top four, and we missed an opportunity,” Beveridge said.

“Hawthorn were good, their pressure was first-rate, they rushed us. During the third quarter we started to get momentum and a stranglehold of things, but then we let them walk out of centre bounces and gain momentum against the breeze.

“It’s uncharacteristic of how we’ve been but the work that we’ve put in and the journey that we’re on, nothing is certain.”

Most concerning to Beveridge was the 10-4 centre bounce statistic, which limited his forwards to just 35 inside-50s. By contrast, the Dogs won the inside-50s, 60-39, in last week’s loss to Essendon, but the Bombers thrashed the Dogs at centre bounces, making it a focus for Saturday’s game.

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