THE WESTERN Bulldogs can keep dreaming of that one day in October, because the finals are just one win away now.
DOGS ON SHOW Full match coverage and stats
The Bulldogs steamrolled Hawthorn to the tune of 36 points to jump up to seventh spot on the ladder.
However, the win was soured after utility Toby McLean was taken from the field with what appeared to be a serious knee injury within the first few minutes of the game.
The Dogs put their foot to the floor not long after McLean's injury, kicking six unanswered goals in the first half on the way to the 11.10 (76) to 6.4 (40) victory.
Skipper Marcus Bontempelli (28 disposals and 11 clearances) led from the front in the midfield, while Caleb Daniel (28 disposals and 546 metres gained) again pushed his case for a spot in the All-Australian squad.
Tim English snagged two goals and had a massive impact on the clearance differential, despite the Dogs getting smashed in the hitout count.
Hawthorn clawed back to win the third quarter, but the positives were few and far between outside of that.
The Bulldogs now control their own destiny with a win against Fremantle in round 18 locking up a finals spot regardless of other results.
If the Dogs stumble next week, they'll need the Giants and Demons to lose as well to stay in the top eight.
The Hawks will finish their season with a clash against Gold Coast and get another look at their youth.
JJ lights it up in new role
Laitham Vandermeer might not be a household name, but the young speedster has already become pivotal to how the Bulldogs play, however, with Vandermeer (hamstring) unavailable for the next month, coach Luke Beveridge turned to Jason Johannisen to fill the forward/wing dual role. Johannisen kicked two goals on the run in the first quarter to ignite the spirit of his teammates and looked to be back to his lively best.
Father-son impresses in first match
Hawthorn fans have been waiting to see Finn Maginness all year, and their patience was rewarded. The midfielder showed fight around the contest and, despite a modest 10 disposals, he was still a bright spot for the Hawks. The first-year player got some valuable experience lining up against Bailey Smith and Tom Liberatore around the coal face and will be better for the run. Maginness' father Scott played 131 games for the Hawks and was part of the 1988 and 1989 premiership-winning sides.
Doc's ready to see you now
After countless setbacks with a quad injury throughout the year, it was a welcome return to senior footy for Western Bulldogs defender Taylor Duryea. It was perhaps ironic that he and fellow former Hawk Matt Suckling were picked to take on their old side, but don't think it was just a nice gesture at the selection table. Both players are coming out of contract at the end of 2020 and haven't completely nailed down a spot in the best 22 when fully healthy. Duryea's return (14 disposals) allowed Ed Richards and Johannisen to be freed up, while Suckling (eight disposals) struggled to make an impact.
HAWTHORN 1.1 1.2 5.3 6.4 (40)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 4.1 7.6 9.7 11.10 (76)
Hawthorn: Gunston 3, Breust, O'Brien, Wingard
Western Bulldogs: English 2, Johannisen 2, Naughton 2, Wallis, Daniel, B.Smith, R.Smith, McLean
Hawthorn: Breust, Shiels, Gunston, Cousins, Greaves, Morrison
Western Bulldogs: Daniel, Bontempelli, Liberatore, English, B.Smith, Macrae
Western Bulldogs: McLean (knee)