Bailey Dale looks dejected after the Western Bulldogs' loss to Greater Western Sydney at Mars Stadium in round 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge was left "numb" after surrendering a 35-point lead in Saturday's five-point loss to Greater Western Sydney which he called "the one that got away".

The Bulldogs led by 35 points eight minutes into the third quarter before GWS skipper Toby Greene led the second-half rally, with the Giants kicking nine of the game's last 12 goals for a critical victory in the race for the top eight.

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The defeat leaves the Dogs' finals hopes in peril, sitting seventh with a 10-9 record, having lost three of their past four games, ahead of Friday night's crunch clash against fellow finals hopefuls Richmond.

Beveridge's side had restricted the Giants to only two goals by half-time and arguably should've been further than 29 points ahead with inaccuracy in front of goal proving costly.


But the game was flipped on its head after half-time with the Giants' orange tsunami-style evident with rebound off half-back.

"That was probably one of our best halves for the year, that first half," Beveridge said.

"If we're kicking those set shots in the second quarter, we're not sitting here worrying about the loss.

"We just didn't capitalise on our opportunity. To take nine marks inside our forward 50 in the first quarter, we were well on top. All the things we were doing well, particularly around the contest and being able to contain the ball in our front half and through the midfield, that escaped us in critical moments in the last half. 

"I think they kicked 7.5 from those situations out of their back-end, with us getting ahead of the ball. We hung our backs out to dry. We didn't manage that well which is really disappointing.

"We're trying to process it. Everyone is a bit numb.

"Credit to them being able to come over the top in the end. It's one that got away.

"I'm not going to make excuses. Ultimately, I feel like we had enough opportunities and control of the game to get it done. That's why there's that numb feeling at the moment."


Josh Bruce was assisted out of the game by trainers early in the third quarter with a worrying right knee injury. Beveridge said they would wait for medical assessment on Bruce, who injured his left ACL in late 2021.

"I'd rather not speculate," Beveridge said. "Obviously it's a serious enough injury not to finish the game."

The Dogs' key backline stocks were also depleted by losing Alex Keath to concussion in the first half, but Beveridge flagged Liam Jones was in the mix to return against the Tigers following an arm injury sustained in round 14.

"We think Liam Jones might be available," he said.

"We've got to work out whether or not that happens. James O'Donnell was an emergency today and he can play key back. We're going to need at least one or two to come in and fill those roles."


Beveridge remained bullish on the Dogs' finals hopes despite the numbing defeat.

"We've just got to think positively," he said. "We've got four games to go. Our destiny is still well and truly in our hands regardless of dropping one today.

"We'll pick ourselves up, six-day break, Friday night game against Richmond, and compel each other to put our best foot forward to challenge the Tigers."

Greater Western Sydney coach Adam Kingsley was thrilled with his side's comeback, admitting his side were second best in the first half.

"We focused on rectifying our game and trying to make it look like a Giants game," he said.

"In the first half, it didn't look anything like it. We were dominated at stoppage. The Bulldogs were unstoppable at stoppage in the first half, they were fantastic and we struggled to cope with that.

"We made a few adjustments at half-time which seemed to help and generally played a bit better in the second half. To be able to come back was pretty special."


Greene led the comeback, kicking all five of his goals in the second half, including four in the third term when the Giants trimmed back the margin. Greene has now kicked 49 goals for the campaign to sit third in the Coleman Medal race behind Charlie Curnow (67) and Taylor Walker (54).

"Good players playing well certainly helps," Kingsley said.

"He's been wonderful for us all year. He has that capability. We know he's one of the best players in the competition. Certainly in that third quarter he showed it."


The win made it a club-record seven straight victories for the Giants, but it was also their fifth in a row away from home, including triumphs in Ballarat, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Hobart and Geelong.

The Giants have won at nine different venues this season, with Kingsley delighted with their ability to win on the road.

"That's becoming evident," he said.

"It's something we need to continue to work on. We love getting away together. Spending some time (together).

"We prepare for every game the same. These guys have traveled enough over the years, they're used to it, they've got good routines. To beat good teams away from home is pretty special and that's what we did today."