Bulldogs off the pace in big grand final rematch defeat
WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says his side was "off the pace" in Thursday night's 46-point loss to Sydney at the SCG.
The Bulldogs are now 6-5 and in danger of dropping out of the top eight with a crunch clash against Melbourne to come next week.
The premiers were never really in the contest, with only inaccurate kicking - the Swans were 5.8 at half time - keeping Beveridge's side in the game in the first half as they struggled to adjust to the wet conditions.
"Many of our players who played tonight were just nowhere near what their capacity and their capability is," Beveridge said.
"You've always got to make adjustments regardless of whether or not you're winning or teams are bringing their very best against you.
"We need to continue to evolve and get better.
"Tonight we looked off the pace in many areas."
Beveridge and the Bulldogs have copped some criticism in recent weeks for the number of changes being made to the 22 each week, including the axing of midfielder Tom Liberatore.
But the premiership coach says Liberatore isn't the only one struggling to find form.
"We're frustrated that the majority of our players who carried our club last year, for one reason or another, haven't been able to find their best," he said.
"It's up to all of us to take responsibility.
"(But) the buck stops with me. I'm the one who needs to get them going ... it's my responsibility to re-ignite the flame. It's my responsibility to get us going again and play somewhere near the levels we were last year regardless of whether or not we lose personnel at different times through injury.
"I haven't been able to do that to the level that I'd like as yet. Hopefully at some point we get some momentum and we start playing near the standard we know we can play, but it's been too spasmodic."
Marcus Bontempelli was one of several Bulldogs below his best, managing just 17 disposals and he gave away five free kicks. But the star midfielder did have a game-high 11 tackles.
Norm Smith Medallist Jason Johannisen had a night to forget, gathering just nine disposals as he was well held by George Hewett and the Sydney team who worked him over off the ball all night.
Key forwards Travis Cloke (eight disposals, zero goals) and Jake Stringer (11 disposals, one goal) were also quiet.
The Bulldogs managed just six goals and 12 scoring shots from 39 forward 50 entries for the match.
In contrast, the Swans had 28 scoring shots from a massive 71 inside 50s.
"We're struggling our way through the season," Beveridge said.
"Week to week we're looking for our best. We felt like we were a little bit better in our St Kilda game, particularly around the footy but tonight we absolutely weren't anywhere near where we need to be.
"The Sydney midfield took control of the game and we couldn't find our way back."
Defender Marcus Adams suffered a foot injury in the loss that will require scans.