'Be careful': Tight-lipped Luke Beveridge hints at AFL frustration

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·Sports Reporter
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Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said he had to speak 'carefully' when asked about how Aaron Naughton was defended by the Gold Coast Suns. Picture: Fox Sports
Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said he had to speak 'carefully' when asked about how Aaron Naughton was defended by the Gold Coast Suns. Picture: Fox Sports

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge chose his words carefully in his press conference after defeating the Gold Coast Suns on Saturday night following a hot and cold performance from Aaron Naughton.

The star full forward booted three goals during an impressive first half, but disappeared in the second - prompting Beveridge to be somewhat guarded about Naughton's performance after the game.

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The Suns substantially raised the level of attention given to Naughton after half time, with Suns defender Sam Collins embarking on some increasingly physical play that some felt was tantamount to blocking the Bulldogs star from the contest.

A somewhat tight-lipped Beveridge said Naughton hadn't been affected by an injury or on-field distractions from the opposition, but his responses hinted there was more he wanted to say.

Beveridge admitted he was choosing his words carefully after the match, confirming that he would be reviewing the match footage in a hint there could be more to come.

“I’ve got to be really careful here because he’s been so dominant and then there were reasons why he wasn’t in the second half,” Beveridge said.

“That’s all I’ll say.

“We’ll do some follow up. He kept fighting, kept bringing the ball to ground.

“We’ll work our way through it through the course of the week.”

Beveridge was hinting at looking at whether blocking tactics had been deployed against Naughton by Collins, however Gold Coast counterpart Stuart Dew wasn't having any of it.

He said Collins had done well to hang tough after a difficult start to the game.

“We just changed the mix, the ball was coming down pretty freely in the first,” he said.

“I think we got more pressure on the ball and heat on the delivery.

“Sam Collins’ ability to rebound from the first 10 minutes where things weren’t going his way… he fought it out.”

Bulldogs earn crucial win to keep finals hopes alive

Last year's grand finalists have struggled for consistency all season but in front of a buzzing crowd in Ballarat, prevailed 15.16 (106) to 13.9 (87) to claim back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

It was a welcome victory for Beveridge and the kind he believed could be the basis for longer term success this season.

"Last time we were down here (in Ballarat) we dropped a game by a point (against Adelaide) and those small margins separate the ones who are going to be also-rans and the ones that are going to be up the top.

"Hopefully we can establish ourselves as a team that can string a few more together as we go on."

The Suns never gave up, especially after losing Rory Thompson to a second-quarter knee injury while they were also without Jy Farrar (concussion) after halftime.

Aaron Naughton kicked three first half goals, but was limited by the Gold Coast in the second half to Luke Beveridge's chagrin. (Photo by Martin Keep/Getty Images)
Aaron Naughton kicked three first half goals, but was limited by the Gold Coast in the second half to Luke Beveridge's chagrin. (Photo by Martin Keep/Getty Images)

Gold Coast coach Dew believes Thompson has avoided a dreaded ACL tear in just his third game back after missing three seasons through two knee reconstructions.

Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli booted three clutch goals and had 24 disposals and Bailey Smith (34 disposals) continued his stellar season.

Beveridge hailed defender Ed Richards as "outstanding" and applauded Bontempelli for a "big captain's last quarter".

Gold Coast's Joel Jeffrey was brilliant, booting five goals, with Dew hailing the 20-year-old's performance after a family member died during the week.

"After the week that he had, for a young lad to come out in his sixth game, to kick five goals in those circumstances, we're proud of him and his family should be proud of him," Dew said.

He was well-supported by Ben Ainsworth (three goals) while David Swallow worked hard in midfield.

With AAP

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