Swans, Bulldogs reach AFL crossroad

Roger VaughanAAP
The Swans and Bulldogs will renew their AFL rivalry in a crucial round-17 clash at the SCG.
Camera IconThe Swans and Bulldogs will renew their AFL rivalry in a crucial round-17 clash at the SCG. Credit: AAP

Sydney and the Western Bulldogs have hit the crossroads moment of their almost-there AFL seasons.

Swans co-captain Dane Rampe speaks of frustration as they try to reduce the chasm between their best and worst.

The Bulldogs are only one game behind eighth-placed Sydney, but the convincing loss to top-four side Brisbane has renewed questions about the bona fides of last year's grand finalists.

Whoever loses Friday night's massive clash will leave the SCG with their season on the brink.

Rampe and Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge had almost identical sentiments this week as they spoke of their teams' potential for the rest of the campaign.

They know if their team can hit its straps, anything is possible. But something is missing.

"It's very frustrating ... the gap between our best and worst is too big at the moment," Rampe said.

"We can match it with the best teams, that's kind of the carrot dangling at the end of the season.

"Should we get this right, we'll be really confident in our ability, hopefully heading into some September action."

Beveridge was equally as positive.

"There's no reason why we can't continue to string it together," he said.

"There's a third of the season to go - there's no frustration.

"Obviously off the back of last year, the expectation is that you're there again.

"The fact of the matter is, we're not, but the belief is still high and there's a lot more water to go under the bridge."

Just as the Dogs will try to rebound from the Lions loss, Sydney are coming off an upset defeat to lowly Essendon.

There has been media criticism of how well the Bulldogs defend in the wake of the Brisbane thrashing, but Beveridge has defended that aspect of their game.

He noted round three, when Sydney were coming off two wins and the Bulldogs had started the season with two losses.

The Swans only managed nine goals in the 11-point loss.

"We've shown at different stages of the year that when we're all sync, we can defend extremely well as a team," Beveridge said.

"Last time we played Sydney was a prime example - they were a high-scoring team early in the year and we ended up having a pretty low-scoring game with them.

"We kept them to about 60 points - that's a great defensive result, we can do it, and that's what we'll be aiming to do in Sydney."

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