The Western Bulldogs look dejected after their loss to Port Adelaide in round 13, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has admitted his side is "below the upper rung" of teams at the moment after Friday night's loss to Port Adelaide.

The Bulldogs fell to 7-6 after a third straight loss, going down to the red-hot Power by 22 points at Marvel Stadium.

BULLDOGS v POWER Full match coverage and stats

Beveridge said defeats to Gold Coast, Geelong and Port showed his team was below the best in the competition, but he is retaining belief.

"Even the last few weeks, the games have probably swung on decision and skill at times and ours has been marginal and it's hurt us," he said.


"The series of games that we won, some of those games were pretty tight and we were able to just do enough right so it's not like we're absolutely shooting the lights out.

"But the area that we had improved significantly was probably our defensive action and our team defence and that over the last few weeks, we've been challenged by three pretty good teams and we've worn it.

"It just means that we're below the upper rung at the moment and we've got to keep pursuing trying to get up there. You can improve in this game in a very short space of time and I believe in our guys and I believe we can find those increments."

Port Adelaide was able to score a whopping 62 points on turnover against the Dogs, who have become vulnerable in that area in recent weeks.

In another potential concern, captain Marcus Bontempelli could come under scrutiny from the Match Review Officer for a high bump on Dan Houston.


"In real time I thought they both just went for the ball, I haven't seen a replay so I've got no real comment," Beveridge said, but more broadly wanted considerations to be made on the intent behind the action. 

"I'm a big believer that when we're looking at it, and even when we're looking to evolve, is to really focus on if there's any intent to actually hurt a player and it probably should be the civil test, on the balance of probabilities … because there's accidents in sport." 

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley, while reluctant to comment on the specific incident between Bontempelli and Houston, is a fan of the crackdown on head-high contact. 

"I think the game's been cleaned up for safety reasons, and I think that's a great result," Hinkley said. 


Pleased with his team's 10th straight win, and ninth consecutive victory at Marvel Stadium, Hinkley was keen to praise some of his young players. 

"There's been a fair bit said about that group of young mids, and rightly so," Hinkley said of Zak Butters, Connor Rozee and Jason Horne-Francis. 

"Zak's just, he's shooting the lights out, he's as good as you can be. He was bloody good again tonight, he was the best player on the ground probably again."


But it was another young face that Hinkley wanted to highlight after the victory. 

"Lachie Jones, what a game for an emerging young defender," he said.  

"Without pumping too many up, I don't want to do that, but I think some people at a time in their career they have those moments, those games, and I think Lachie had one. I mean, I thought last week was pretty good by Lachie, but I thought tonight was at another level."