WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says Saturday night's rousing win over Port Adelaide at their home fortress will do wonders for the belief of his playing group, which he praised for maintaining strong physicality and pressure across four quarters.
The Dogs withstood a strong challenge from the Power to run out 19-point winners at Adelaide Oval, which lifts them temporarily to the top of the ladder.
After losing a highly anticipated clash against Richmond at the MCG two weeks ago, the Dogs passed a major test on Saturday by beating a fellow premiership contender on their home deck.
Beveridge said post-game that the win was significant for his side's confidence as it pushes towards a top-four berth this season.
"It'll do wonders for the belief of the group," Beveridge said.
"And the importance of these outings and these experiences can't be undersold.
POWER v BULLDOGS Full match coverage and stats
"Against a team like Port on their home deck, where they've been significantly strong and don't drop many, we can definitely bank that and feel good about it.
"And hopefully it's an experience that as we continue on it will help us."
The match was a see-sawing affair, with the Dogs up by 25 points at quarter-time only for the Power to kick the first five goals of the second term.
Beveridge said he was pleased that his players refused to go into their shells when they were challenged, but rather kept up their strong physicality and pressure for the entire game.
"I didn't think we exerted any control or overall dominance for the whole night, but I think what the season is teaching us is that teams, including us, will come with a pressure game and a physical game and it's just how long you can last in that," he said.
"That's what I was most pleased about. [That] we were able to last the four quarters in the physicality and the pressure game.
"From that point of view, it was very encouraging."
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley bemoaned his side's poor effort in the first quarter, when it was bullied in the centre and lost the clearance count 16 to five.
But he was pleased his team recovered to stay in the contest, and get on top in stages, especially in the second quarter when the Power kicked six goals to two.
He said it was an improvement on the performances against West Coast and Brisbane, which the Power lost by 37 and 49 points respectively.
"When we're okay in contested possessions we're challenging to any team. But when we come up against the best teams … they've been able to be a bit stronger for longer," Hinkley said.
"Tonight was a [positive] step for us I thought, [compared to our] previous two losses where we were done from the start.
"I thought tonight we showed real courage to come back and go again and then compete."
Hinkley said his side had shown it was a good team, but needed to become a great team to contend for the premiership.
He said he had no doubt his side was capable of becoming great this season.
"We are working really hard to be [a great side] and I've got great confidence that we can be that team by the end of 2021," he said.
"The team is 100 per cent certain on what we need to do to improve to become great."
Hinkley also confirmed that Tom Clurey, who was subbed out after a collision in the second term, was in hospital with a suspected broken jaw.