The Western Bulldogs have given their supporters plenty of reason for optimism over the summer ahead after finishing the season on a high with a 20-point victory over Melbourne in the final match of the 2013 home-and-away season.
The Dogs may have gone into the season with little expected of them after losing their last 11 games in 2012.
And with just one victory to their name in the first eight rounds this season, coach Brendan McCartney found himself under increasing pressure at The Kennel.
But the second half of the season has seen the Dogs turn things around and while Sunday’s 16.11 (107) to 13.9 (87) victory over the struggling Demons probably won’t be the best of the Bulldogs’ wins for the year, it was still good enough to see them finish the campaign with eight victories.
McCartney’s side had to settle for 15th on the ladder but they finish 2013 just three victories behind Carlton, who earned a shock call-up to the finals through Essendon’s banishment.
Dogs’ fans will also take heart from the form of several youngsters, notably Tom Liberatore, who was simply in everything during the first half on his way to 36 disposals (20 contested and 12 clearances) and Lachie Hunter (22 and two goals), who once again showed plenty of class and poise for an 18-year-old.
They were complemented by more superb work from veterans Matt Boyd (40 possessions), Adam Cooney (30), Robert Murphy (29) and Daniel Cross in his last game for the club with 27.
The Dogs set up Sunday’s victory with a sensational nine-goal second quarter