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Who is the most improved Dog? Sharpshooter proving his worth

Josh Scache has become a consistent performer for the Dogs this year - AFL,Western Bulldogs,Josh Schache
Josh Scache has become a consistent performer for the Dogs this year

WESTERN Bulldogs forward Josh Schache is quietly becoming one of the most improved players at Whitten Oval.

After being known as a straight-shooter in the under 18s, Schache's goalkicking tally in his first year at Brisbane was out-of-character, with 16 goals and 18 behinds to his name.

That has flipped in 2019. Schache's managed 21 goals and just six behinds in his 12 games, good for 66.7 per cent accuracy.

Only GWS' Harry Himmelberg and North Melbourne's Nick Larkey have kicked more goals than Schache with a higher accuracy.

So what's actually changed for Schache since his first year in the League?

"It's a little bit to do with confidence and just getting used to the demands under fatigue. It's a big jump from how much you run and cover around the grounds," Schache said.

"I've had the same routine since under 18s."

Taking a look at Schache's first AFL goal and his latest set shot for the Bulldogs, it's clear that not much has changed for him.

One dimension of his game that has changed has been the focus on the defensive side of the game.

Coach Luke Beveridge has praised how much better this year's iteration of the Bulldogs has been in terms of offensive execution compared to the 2016 premiership year, and a fair portion of that revolves around how each player applies pressure.

Schache's had a few efforts in recent weeks where he's forced a turnover by himself, resulting in a goal.

"It has been a focus point especially from the coaching group, if I'm not getting the ball offensively it's a good way to get into the game," he said.

"It's why we've been getting easier shots on goal."

It hasn't been all roses this year for Schache. A nasty head knock against St Kilda had fans worried, and looking back it was just as "frightening" for the key forward.

"I don't remember anything from going up to spoil the ball up until sitting on the bench. I don't even remember going to the rooms after getting hit in the head," he said of the round 18 incident.

"I was a bit shaken up for a few days afterwards.

"I had no idea that the ball came near me, when someone told me I nearly got the ball again I didn't believe them."

Schache praised the team's medical staff, who ordered him to stay away from the club for a few days after the game. The Bulldogs are fully aware of the dangers of concussion with Liam Picken forced to retire this year due to ongoing concussion-related symptoms.

Tom Boyd was another fan favourite at the kennel who decided to call it a day earlier this year, but the 2016 premiership hero made a return to the club this week.

Schache didn't get a chance to catch up with Boyd, but "from all reports he's been doing really well."

The Bulldogs will host Adelaide at Mars Stadium in Ballarat on Sunday, with a win securing the home side a spot in the finals.

"The prospect of finals is in our hands. If we win, we do play finals," he said.

"I haven't really thought too far ahead, but it's obviously really exciting."