LUKE Beveridge has hailed the Western Bulldogs' epic win over West Coast as "monumental" in the development of his side as it pushes for a return to the top rungs of the ladder this season.
The Dogs fell 14 points down to the Eagles early in the last term of Sunday's see-sawing clash at Marvel Stadium but recovered to claim a last-gasp victory after a late goal from best-on-ground skipper Marcus Bontempelli.
It leaves the Dogs 2-0 to start their campaign with the lowly North Melbourne fixtured for next week, and 2016 premiership coach Beveridge said his side had taken a huge step with its victory over the Eagles.
"When the game was slipping away a little bit, and definitely at three-quarter time, for the boys to collect their thoughts and come again, [to come back] was monumental for us. It's such an important win on our journey and the passage that we're trying to dig out," Beveridge said post-game.
Beveridge praised his squad's engine room for stepping up when the game was on the line, with Jack Macrae (41 disposals), Bontempelli (30), Tom Liberatore (26) Bailey Smith (25) and Adam Treloar (25) all having a big say in the result against a Nic Naitanui-led Eagles charge.
DOGS v EAGLES Full match coverage and stats
Important half-back Bailey Williams was also crucial in the result in the final minute fending off three Eagles forwards as they had their final foray into attack and attempt to snatch the lead back. Williams' contest led to the match-winning goal for Bontempelli.
"It's a big moment in the game and 'Truck' (Williams) is battling manfully. He's almost our third key defender at different times and he can play anywhere in that back end. I don't think the game had gone his way at different times and he was a good example of persevering and hanging in there and he had some big moments in that last quarter."
The Dogs will be strong favourites to start their season 3-0 for the first time since 2009, when they made a preliminary final, when they face the Kangaroos on Good Friday next round, but Beveridge warned against any drop-off in intensity.
"Our mindset can't change. It needs to stay exactly the same, and apply ourselves to get the most out of ourselves," he said.
Eagles counterpart Adam Simpson said his club's defensive systems stood up in the first half of the "rollercoaster" clash, but that the midfield dominance of the Bulldogs throughout the game was a deciding factor.
West Coast had some last-ditch attempts to claim the win after Bontempelli's last goal but couldn't make it happen as the Dogs' backline stood up.
"It's really hard to be critical of smothers or missed opportunities to connect, or the ball bounces the wrong way. It's hard to be critical when it was a game like that. I'm sure there'd be a lot of players reflecting on that, but I can't criticise their effort and intensity, especially after half-time," Simpson said.
"The first-half, though, we need to look at. Our pressure on the ball [in particular]. The Doggies play a different brand.
"Today would have been a great game to watch, but we were just a little bit off around the pressure around the ball and the Doggies play a completely different system and rely on handballs and using their numbers and we're a bit different. It looked like their way was working a bit better than ours in the first half."