THE WESTERN Bulldogs should play their two annual Ballarat games earlier in the day and earlier in the season, Dogs coach Luke Beveridge says.
In their third home game at Mars Stadium on Sunday, the Bulldogs suffered a 44-point loss to Port Adelaide in a game that started in gloomy conditions at 3.20pm and finished under lighting that was roundly condemned as sub-standard for an AFL game.
DOG DAY AFTERNOON Full match coverage and stats
The combination of dark skies and poor lighting made it difficult for everyone at the venue to follow the action.
Power star Charlie Dixon, who was best-afield with five goals, told 3AW post-match: "It was hard to see where the ball was ... If they're going to play a game here, it should be earlier."
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley also took a dim view of proceedings.
"I couldn't see the game in the last quarter. I was in the box and it was pretty dark. I was watching it on the monitor, but it was just the conditions," Hinkley told reporters.
Beveridge emphasised the Bulldogs enjoyed playing in front of their growing supporter base in the western corridor, but suggested the issue could largely be alleviated.
"It's just probably the timing of the game," Beveridge said after the match
"The lighting didn't seem to be too bad. Obviously they were makeshift, some of the lights.
"No real complaints. Obviously it got pretty dark in the end.
"We'd probably prefer to play our Ballarat games in the first half of the year.
"That'd be a good thing, but ultimately Victoria's weather is pretty fickle. Australia's weather is pretty fickle. If we turned up to play yesterday it would've been pretty reasonable conditions. So it's pot luck.
"We're not at the point where we can be too fussy at the moment.
"Today was OK but I think, perfect world, that 1.10 (pm) slot is ideal for this venue."
Under a deal between the Bulldogs, the state government and the City of Ballarat, the Dogs will play at least two games a year in Ballarat until 2021.
It was the club's third premiership game in Ballarat – the first was against Port Adelaide in round 22 last year, and the other was against Gold Coast in round seven.
It was a gloomy finish all round for the Bulldogs, who were within 14 points at the last change before Port powered home with the last four goals.
Beveridge praised big man Jackson Trengove's performance against Power ruckman Paddy Ryder and was pleased with the efforts of his midfielders.
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The Dogs have lost nine of their past 10 games but Beveridge is optimistic about his young team finding more cohesion in the last four rounds.
"I talked to them about how I'm pretty proud that they keep fronting up and the desire's there to win, but then we're just getting found out by a little bit of experience," he said.