Rising stocks: the Western Bulldogs downed Brisbane by 19 points at Mars Stadium on Sunday. Photo: JAMES ROSS/ AAP IMAGE

Are the Bulldogs flag contenders?

April 15, 2021 BY

WESTERN Bulldogs great Brad Johnson believes his former side are maturing into premiership contention.

The Dogs have raced away to a 4-0 start after beating Brisbane by 19 points in Ballarat on Saturday, with their swift ball movement dazzling observers.

“For me it’s always been ‘how can the Bulldogs manage to get themselves to become a top four team?’” Johnson related on SEN Mornings.

“We’re starting to see that now with the growth and maturity in a lot of players in their line-up.”

Johnson pinpointed Bailey Williams and Bailey Smith as standouts, with the competition for spots turbocharging the pups’ progress.

“When you look across all the lines there’s experience there, but they’ve also got developing youth fighting for a senior spot in the line-up,” Johnson said.

The Dogs games record holder believes the personnel waiting their turn will continue to buoy the side as the year goes on.

“Easton Wood (just) returned really well, you’ve still got Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Rhylee West running around in the reserves…

“Hayden Crozier is out injured at the moment (too), so there’s growth in that.”

Johnson believes Luke Beveridge’s side is maturing tactically too, having redirected its dynamic disposal to get the ball to the forwards sooner and put less pressure on the backline.

“It’s a bit of a change up (from) handballing and releasing out the back. They’re getting that handball out the side of the contest and releasing forward.

“It’s keeping better structure forward of the ball, (and) it’s certainly supporting the defence.”