Arise ye workers from ye slumbers! How the Bulldogs will make history

Giovanni Torre Columnist

By , Giovanni Torre is a Roar Expert

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    Sydney are flat track bullies. The Bulldogs are the real deal. (Click to Tweet)

    Three weeks ago Sydney failed to get one of their renowned fast starts. They panicked and then disintegrated under the pressure Western Sydney applied.

    A similar performance was put up by the Swans earlier this season against the Giants, and also against Hawthorn and anyone else the Swans weren’t able to put away early.

    The two top four winners of the first week, Geelong and GWS, were scratchy and rusty in the opening 25 minutes of their preliminary finals. While Sydney capitalised with seven goals, the Bulldogs let GWS off the hook – going forward a remarkable 16 times in that time period but managing only two goals, and missed two excruciatingly easy shots in the first quarter.

    Both GWS and Geelong matched their opponents from quarter time on. The difference was the Cats were a mile behind. Turns out playing one game in four weeks isn’t ideal preparation for a preliminary final, but we can thank the cynicism of the Fremantle Dockers and North Melbourne in seasons past for this particular innovation that no one asked for, nor wanted. (Click to Tweet)

    A quick word on the vanquished.

    Greater Western Sydney are a strong chance for next season’s flag. Make no mistake, they can play.

    There is no missing piece in the GWS puzzle and their younger players will only get better. This defeat will put a hitherto unknown hunger into the team that will not rest until a silver cup resides in a pristine minimalist Scandinavian cabinet at Spotless Stadium.

    Geelong aren’t done. Jimmy Bartel and even Corey Enright may go, but Nakia Cockatoo, Darcy Lang, Jed Bews and Tom Ruggles are pounding on the door to come in. Cory Gregson and Jackson Thurlow will return. Scott Selwood will play a full season.

    Sam Menegola will improve. Patrick Dangerfield already plays like a man possessed – and his demons will grow in power after this disappointment. He will be like Joachim Murat’s cavalry charge at Eylau – a tidal wave that will shake the earth under the feet of his enemies.

    Clay Smith Western Bulldogs AFL Final 2016 tall

    Back to the main event…

    The upside of the bye was the Bulldogs were able to bring back some stars and freshen up, with their extraordinary win against West Coast at Subiaco the result. That outcome – against a team that seemed to have hit devastating form – gave the Dogs the self-belief to roll Hawthorn and then march into western Sydney like Caesar at Bibracte.

    Lin Jong’s 29 touches in Footscray’s VFL Premiership victory recommend him highly for a return to the main stage, and he could do a Steven King, with a VFL and AFL premiership medal in the same season.

    The Swans are a good team, a very, very good team, but not as good as their easy wins against Adelaide and Geelong suggest. Sydney’s win against Adelaide was similar to its win against Geelong. The Crows, like the Cats, played far below their best – especially early. And like the Cats they were wasteful when they did enjoy belated periods of dominance.

    As the song says, Bulldogs fight. This season the Dogs had to overcome a shocking injury run, and then in the finals faced huge tests – West Coast in Perth, the reigning triple premiers coming off a stinging loss, and the Giants at their toy stadium.

    Every time they have stood up and overcome the odds. This is a club that understands struggle, that understands suffering. This is a club that understands community, and gladly belongs – heart and soul – to its supporters. This is a club that remembers ’89.

    There will be no easy start for Sydney on Saturday. From the first second there will be no quarter given by the Dogs, who play like they are prepared to die in a ditch for Luke Beveridge.

    The Bulldogs are blessed with speed, intensity, marking power, exquisite skills – and hearts like 22 Phar Laps. Not one of that 22 will play a millimetre below his best.

    This is it, 62 years in the making – here come the Dogs.