We rate the Western Bulldogs’ up and down 2014 season.
(14th: 7 wins, 15 losses)
What went right:
Brendan McCartney’s side were touted as an outside finals chance, and it’s fair to say they fell well short of their pre-season promise.
However, the emergence of Marcus Bontempelli was a major positive for the Bulldogs.
Brought in at pick four in the 2013 Draft, Bontempelli was unlucky not to win the AFL Rising Star award, falling just one vote short of winner Lewis Taylor.
Nathan Hrovat and Tom Liberatore stepped up massively in 2014 and along with Bontempelli will be at the forefront of the club’s push for finals football in coming seasons.
What went wrong:
The Bulldogs’s lack of a big key forward hurt them massively.
Stewart Crameri is a decent enough player, but not the type of big forward who will drag a team over the line with an massive haul.
Kicking accuracy was a major issue all season, with the Bulldogs ranked 16th in kicking efficiency.
It’s dismal record against top eight sides (1-9), shows a side that was nowhere near good enough for finals football in 2014.
Overall, there’s no doubt it was a disappointing season for the Bulldogs.
The young brigade of Hrovat, Bontempelli and Liberatore added an extra dimension to the Bulldogs play, but it was the ever-reliable Ryan Griffen who shouldered a majority of the load.
Griffen averaged 12 kicks and 21 disposals a game this season, and is ranked fifth in the AFL Official Player Ratings.
There’s no doubt most expected to see more of an improvement in 2014, however McCartney’s side won just seven games in comparison to its disappointing eight in 2013.
However, the Bulldogs have far too many quality youngsters not to climb back up the ladder and while it seems finals in 2015 may be a bit of a stretch, September football in 2016 looms.