Luke Beveridge believes the Western Bulldogs wasted a golden opportunity to break their hoodoo in Geelong, leaving their AFL finals hopes hang by a thread.
After the glory of upsetting reigning premiers Melbourne last week, the Bulldogs crashed back down on Saturday night as the Cats blew them away with an eight-goal to none third quarter.
The Bulldogs booted the opening four goals to silence the GMHBA Stadium crowd, before Geelong took control of the match after halftime.
They have lost their last 11 games at Kardinia Park, with their last win in Geelong coming back in 2003.
The Bulldogs have slipped back outside the top eight and will need to win at least two of their last three matches to be assured of playing finals for the fourth straight season.
“I think tonight was probably one of our best opportunities to beat Geelong in Geelong and that’s the shame of it,” Beveridge said.
“But ultimately they showed how good a team they are.
“Our guys were on top of things for a little while, then got taught a lesson in powerful, contested footy for a period of game where our energy came off.”
The Bulldogs’ star-studded midfield was dominated during the third quarter and Beveridge believed his defenders stood up well for most of the match.
Beveridge made the bold call to axe key defender Alex Keath ahead of a clash with star Geelong forwards Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron.
Keath responded to his omission “terrifically well”, according to Beveridge.
“I thought our key defenders were terrific, I didn’t think our back end overall were able to cope as well as we would have liked,” Beveridge said.
“(Keath’s) had a bit of an interrupted lead into the season with some injury and hasn’t quite been at his best but he’ll come back into the team at some point.”
The Bulldogs host under-fire Fremantle, who will be trying to bounce back from two winless weeks, at Marvel Stadium next Saturday in a crucial match for both teams’ finals aspirations.
They finish the season with winnable games against bottom-six sides GWS and Hawthorn.