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No 'kumbaya' as fumbly Western Bulldogs aim for finals


While there's no point singing "kumbaya", coach Luke Beveridge remains adamant his message still resonates with the misfiring Western Bulldogs.

After upset losses to Hawthorn and last-placed West Coast, the Bulldogs must beat Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday night and rely on Carlton beating GWS to make the AFL finals.

Even though the Cats have lost Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron among six changes, with their finals hopes shot, the Bulldogs have lost their last 11 games in Geelong.

The Bulldogs also have lost Bailey Smith to illness and Jackson Macrae to concussion, although they regain fellow star onballer Tom Liberatore from his concussion.

Their pre-finals stumble has led to an increased focus on Beveridge, who has coached the Bulldogs since 2015 and masterminded their drought-breaking 2016 premiership.

"I coach with a lot of passion. There's a lot of emotion in me that comes through in my journey with the teams I've coached," he said when asked about the connection with his players.

"You're searching for the chemistry to reconcile with the emotion and the headspace you're after.

"I have no concerns that my messaging doesn't resonate with our group, but it's my job to continue to prod and explore what the right recipe is, week to week and year to year.

"Your lot is what it is. You earn it. You get what you put in and ultimately, we're still in there with a sniff which is important to recognise."

Beveridge noted the Hawthorn and Eagles losses were different, given the Hawks had beaten Collingwood the week before and are clearly on a last-season roll.

But the disaster against West Coast last weekend might have been a matter of trying not to lose, rather than going a long way to sealing their finals berth.

"The opportunity to play finals is a carrot right in front of you and sometimes, depending on the individual, you can seize up around the prospect of a loss rather than the prospect of a win," he said.

"So maybe we've just seized up a little bit in that regard. You can't just go out, sing kumbaya, break free and play a brand of footy that isn't accountable.

"You have to strike a balance. Last week we were fumbly - it was more our skills, as much as anything, that let us down.

"When we're at our best and have clear heads, we can really generate some attractive footy ... that's what we'll be endeavouring to do on Saturday night.

"The 'clamming up' aspect of playing not to lose, rather than playing to win - that was part of it."

Beveridge said they would change their pre-game plans for Geelong.

Given it is a Saturday night game, the players will be free to drive there when they want rather than the Bulldogs' previous approach of staying in Geelong the night before.

'We've stayed down at 'Sleepy Hollow' a number of times. We've been close to beating the Cats down there, here and there, over the journey," he said.