Aaron Naughton is seen to by a trainer during the R11 match between Western Bulldogs and Sydney at Marvel Stadium on May 23, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has praised the character of his playing group, but cited "monumental" missed chances in a 14-point loss to Sydney on Thursday.

Down to just two available players on the bench by the final quarter, and coming off a five-day break to face the ladder-leading Swans, the Bulldogs threatened to snatch a late win, but it wasn't to be.

BULLDOGS v SWANS Full match coverage and stats

Head knocks to Anthony Scott and important midfielder Ed Richards, compounded by a nasty knee injury to key forward Aaron Naughton, left the Dogs out of fresh legs. The three in-game injuries were also on top of a forced late change, with Ryley Sanders coming into the side for an ill James O'Donnell.

"In the long run, I just thought our players showed enormous character," Beveridge said post-game.

"All in all, it showed there was great integrity in what the boys did and obviously against the top side, so it's just a shame, we had a bit of bad luck. You never lose and feel like a winner, but in my books our players are winners tonight, I thought they were outstanding."

Beveridge said that the club would continue to take a conservative approach to players who experience head knocks, leading to Scott being subbed out of the game just four minutes in after a head clash with Sydney defender Harry Cunningham, followed by Richards being ruled out in the third quarter after a similar incident with Ollie Florent.


"We're extremely conservative (when it comes to concussion), we'll always have our players' health and wellbeing at the forefront regardless of whether or not it even costs you momentum or even the possibility of a victory here and there, you've just got to take care of the players," he said.

"So yeah, they'll go into concussion protocols, will obviously miss next week's game, and beyond that, you know, hopefully they're OK and can play the next week but we'll wait and see."

For Naughton, the club is optimistic his knee injury, incurred after his right leg buckled awkwardly under a tackle, is not as severe as initially thought.

"The indications are that it's hopefully not as extreme as an ACL, but you never can tell. So, we'll give you the information after they've looked at it a bit closely, and they get the results back from the clinics. Fingers crossed that it's not too extreme," Beveridge said.


After the Swans got out to a 30-point lead midway through the final term, the Dogs continued to press, getting within eight points with six minutes left on the clock after an impressive Jamarra Ugle-Hagan goal. Much of that ability to challenge late, according to Beveridge, was thanks to a young midfield mix.

"It was like the Triple R radio station in there, we had Rhylee West, Riley Garcia and Ryley Sanders, and the experienced one in Adam Treloar holding his end up, and I thought they did an enormous job," he said.

"I think system and game style look pretty good, we just made some monumental blues and missed monumental chances to give ourselves any real chance to win the game."


For Sydney coach John Longmire, while the ability to grind out a tough win was a positive, there is still plenty to work on as his side enters the bye atop the ladder with 10 wins under the belt.

"You never walk out of a game that you've won and you're disappointed … it's hard to win a game of footy. But there are some things we can work on," Longmire said.

Full of praise for the Bulldogs' contested work, Longmire cited some missed opportunities at the hard ball as an area the Swans will look to improve. Despite the win, Sydney lost the contested possession count 105-138, and the centre clearance count 8-16.

"You've got to give (the Dogs) credit as well, you know, we probably didn't get to the next contest as what we have been, contest to contest we fumbled a little bit," Longmire said.


Longmire praised Chad Warner's high-flying third-quarter mark, as Warner wrestled control back Sydney's way.

"It wasn't bad, was it?" Longmire said with a smile.

"Chad played probably a little bit differently in the third quarter, played a bit more forward and he was able to hit the scoreboard and he was pretty dynamic. And that's a good sign that he's able to switch on like that and get himself going like he did in that second half."

The Swans now have a week off before facing Geelong at the SCG in round 13, while the Bulldogs will front up again on Friday night to take on a rampaging Collingwood outfit.