Lions wary of ‘wounded’ Bulldogs

AFL Rd 1 - Port Adelaide v Brisbane
Lions coach Chris Fagan will demand a committed Brisbane performance against the Western Bulldogs. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The lingering memories of their first-round shocker against Port Adelaide will have the Brisbane Lions wary of the struggling Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Thursday night.

While the Lions bounced back to form last Friday with a home win over Melbourne, the previous week’s unexpected debacle at Adelaide Oval after a superb pre-season will ensure there isn’t a hint of complacency when taking on the Bulldogs, who are staring down the barrel of a hat-trick of defeats.

“There’s a positive feel around the place but at the same time there was a positive feel around the place after we beat Sydney and Geelong in those practice games, and then we paid the price for that a little bit in the first round, albeit Port played very well,” Lions coach Chris Fagan said.

“Even though last week was a good win, we’re playing a team (on Thursday night) that’s a little bit wounded, (and) been under the blowtorch all week in Melbourne.

“We’ve got enormous respect for the Dogs. We’ve had some good battles with them over the last few years.

“They’ve played in the finals every year. We’re expecting the best version of the Western Bulldogs that there can be, so it’s actually really good that this test comes for us a couple of weeks after round one.”

It’s a “test” that will hold extra significance for Lions star Josh Dunkley, who will lock horns with his former club for the first time since his off-season move to Brisbane,

“He’s a competitive beast,:” Fagan said of Dunkley.

“There’s no trepidation there. He just wants to get out and play for the Lions against his old team. He’s very much looking forward to that opportunity.”

Fagan also said Thursday night’s match would be a good test for emerging talent Will Ashcroft after the hype surrounding his round two Rising Star nomination for his performance against the Demons.

“The judge of that is how they play that next week. On the surface, he seems to have coped with it really well,” Fagan said of the teenage son of Lions triple-premiership winner Marcus Ashcroft.

“He’s a pretty down to earth guy, pretty matter of fact, (and) he doesn’t get too excited by anything.

“He was really disappointed with his performance against Port. He used that to lift his level last week and I’m sure his aim will be now to stay at that level or even improve on that.”

The Lions have made one change to their 22 from last week, with Keidean Coleman returning from concussion to replace veteran defender Daniel Rich, who has been ruled out with a quad injury.