IT MIGHT have been a disappointing end to the night, but Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge chose to find the positives as his side let a commanding 36-point lead slip from its grasp against Geelong on Friday night.
The Dogs kicked six unanswered goals in the first quarter to seize the momentum of the clash, but lost young forward Laitham Vandermeer and veteran defender Easton Wood to hamstring injuries before half-time.
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It led to a barnstorming Cats finish, with the ladder leaders kicking 10 of the game's final 13 goals to gradually reclaim control over the contest and eventually secure a deserved victory on the night.
Speaking after the game, Beveridge disputed suggestions that the Bulldogs could suffer psychologically as a result of throwing away a significant lead. Instead, he opted to look at what the side can learn from an impressive first-quarter display.
"What do you think the reasons are that let them back in?" Beveridge asked.
"Losing two players before half-time against a mature side that's seasoned … they're going to come.
"I'm extremely proud of the boys. Taking the nature of it out, the loss will give us the belief that we can beat the better teams. With a fully fit 22 for four quarters, I think we're in business.
"But it hurt us in the end, and credit to Geelong because they fought their way back. We expected them to. They've been quite sensational at times this year, so I'm really proud of the boys that they made them fight being two-down.
"It will do us the world of good to know we can get that close."
As for injuries sustained to Vandermeer and Wood, the Bulldogs coach said he was uncertain but expected both to be sidelined during the side's pursuit of a top-eight berth.
"They'll obviously be out for a period of time," Beveridge said.
"I don't think Easton's is as bad as Laitham's, but as usual we'll get some scans."
Geelong coach Chris Scott revealed that his quarter-time message was about taking a longer view of the game, having witnessed his Cats side get completely outplayed as they fell to a sudden 36-point deficit.
"We needed to keep our composure, but we needed to change a few things as well," Scott said.
"We needed to get perspective … we weren't going to fix the game in the next 10 minutes. It was going to take the next three quarters.
"(The message) was a combination of composure and trying to get the game played the way we needed it to be played. But also, we wanted to play with a bit more aggression and a bit more will than we showed earlier in the game when we were outplayed."