FORGET the pretty football the Western Bulldogs played last year.

It's all about turning grit into disorder and turning disorder into efficiency in the forward line for coach Luke Beveridge at the moment. 

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Beveridge had built the League's most efficient offensive engine, with sharp inside 50 entries to leading medium sized forwards a hallmark of the way the team played in the latter stages of 2019.

The Dogs have a bevy of those lead-up types in Sam Lloyd, Bailey Dale and Tory Dickson, all of whom have either been out of form when they've been healthy, or unable to even crack into the team.

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That 2019 style is not going to work while the Dogs are in the hub, and Beveridge has thrown around the magnets to adapt.

The dewy conditions in Queensland haven't suited the way they typically like to play at their usual home of Marvel Stadium, but the Dogs have tilted towards a different focus to try and generate scores. 

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"When you can really lock it in there and create some chaos in damp forward 50 arc, you might just luck out on a goal or two from the ball spitting out in your direction," Beveridge said.

"The more you can create those opportunities just through stealth more than anything, the bigger chance you are to grind away and have a margin at the end of the game."

With Aaron Naughton missing plenty of time with a syndesmosis injury, Beveridge inserted Josh Schache into the side, but the Dogs couldn't lock the football inside the forward 50.  

Since Schache was dropped after the round six loss to Carlton, the Bulldogs have gone with Josh Bruce as the lone key target, while Marcus Bontempelli, Matt Suckling, Mitch Wallis and even Laitham Vandermeer have played as the 'pseudo full forward' at times. 

Bruce's goalkicking radar has been way off, but Beveridge says he's got a different criterion to how he judges the former Saint's performance.

From a team perspective, it's allowed other players to blossom.  

Western Bulldogs

Round 6

Rank

Round 7-9

Rank

Kick Inside 50 Retention %

41.3%

#11

50.0%

#4

Kick Inside 50 Mark %

10.9%

#15

19.6%

#5

Score per Inside 50 %

30.2%

#17

44.2%

#5

 

Round 7-9

Inside 50 Targets

Retention %

J. Bruce

21

33.3%

M. Wallis

15

46.7%

M. Suckling

7

42.9%

M. Bontempelli

5

20.0%

B. Dale

4

0.0%

B. Gowers

4

0.0%

T. English

4

50.0%

L. Vandermeer

3

33.3%


Wallis has been a shining light as a medium forward. 

Only Josh Kennedy (54.8 per cent) has had a higher retention rate inside 50 across that three-game stretch, with Wallis' leading patterns and sticky hands making him the most efficient Dog up forward. 

Vandermeer has been another player to thrive through capitalising on that chaos, kicking eight goals from his eight games this year. 

With no Naughton and Schache, Beveridge has occasionally used Vandermeer as the deepest forward in transition.

The Dogs clear out the forward half for him off turnovers so he can beat his opponent with pace to run into an open 50, much like how the Lions use Charlie Cameron. 

Beveridge has been throwing a heap of options against the wall to see what will stick.

It's been ugly at times and the goals have dried up against excellent sides like Richmond, but there's some light at the end of the tunnel. 

Once Naughton returns in round 11 or 12 we might finally get a read on what the 'real' Bulldogs look like.