Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge is confident his talented but inexperienced key backmen can quell a free-scoring Essendon in Sunday’s AFL clash.
Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge is backing his inexperienced defensive cornerstones Lewis Young and Zaine Cordy to contain Essendon’s tall forwards threat at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
With just 27 AFL games between them, Young, 18, and Cordy, 20, will confront in-form Bombers duo Joe Daniher and Cale Hooker, with the premiers desperate for victory to stay in touch with the top eight.
“They are doing outstandingly well; it’s exciting to see the two of them progress and improve their performance,” Beveridge said before a final training session on Saturday.
“Lewy is probably like Marcus Adams last year, it’s like he has played 100 games.
“He was playing a really good level at VFL standard but he has taken to AFL like a duck to water.”
With Daniher (47 goals) in contention for the Coleman Medal, Beveridge is well aware of the threat the Essendon star provides.
“Last year when we played the Bombers, Joe was marking but wasn’t converting and he’s definitely kicking a little straighter this year,” he said.
“So, we’ll do our best to minimise that.”
Beveridge said returning key forward Travis Cloke is a popular figure around the club and, more important, fit and ready to reboot his AFL career in his first game for seven weeks.
“We just want him to free himself, be an offensive threat and a target to go to and just be a really important part of the 22,” Beveridge said.
“He’s a great organiser. Travis is a very mature and experienced player and we continue to need that direction down there (up forward).
“Hopefully he enjoys the game and kicks off his AFL journey again and the other 21 can do the right thing by him.”
While Beveridge acknowledged Essendon’s free-scoring challenge, he was cautiously optimistic that his revamped Bulldogs are getting back the winning feeling.
“It’s not the turn-the-corner terminology, it’s just making steps in the right direction,” he said.
“And progressing with the way we prefer to play.
“We haven’t won enough games to be in the upper echelon at the moment but some of the things of recent times have been really encouraging.”