Bulldogs find mojo ahead of Cats AFL test

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Luke Beveridge senses his Western Bulldogs are re-emerging as an AFL force ahead of Friday night's crunch clash with Geelong.

The Bulldogs are chasing a fourth-straight victory in the Marvel Stadium contest as they look to establish a stronger foothold in the top-eight.

Their strong run of form, extended through a 101-point belting of West Coast last week, comes after an "inauspicious" start to the season for last year's beaten grand finalists.

A meeting with sixth-placed Geelong shapes as a mid-season litmus test before the bye, with the Bulldogs facing a stretch of matches against leading contenders in the second half of the year.

"Contextually, being in that sort of (top-eight) mix now is important for us after an inauspicious start to the year," Dogs coach Beveridge said.

"It still remains to be seen who makes a play but it's an exciting proposition to play against the Cats on a Friday night.

"I know our guys are really looking forward to it.

"You've got to re-establish yourself and I feel like at the halfway mark we're just starting to re-emerge.

"What that means on Friday night, hopefully it's really encouraging.

"The proposition of playing teams ahead of us and around us and influencing where we end up at the end of the whole thing is perfect."

Beveridge has been encouraged by the Bulldogs' scoring power, which hasn't been hampered by regular forced changes to the mix in the forward line.

The Dogs have kicked 99 points or more in five of their last seven outings, with leading goal-kicker Aaron Naughton booting 14 goals across the last four weeks.

Beveridge described the key forward as "such a Goliath, or a leviathan, down there" ahead of a possible match-up with Geelong rising star Sam De Koning.

He also highlighted the importance of Tim English, who was best afield against West Coast on his return from five weeks out with a hamstring injury and illness.

The ruckman looms as a crucial figure in the Dogs' finals push.

"He had a progressive start to the year and then he went out of the team and it affected us a little bit because he was influential at the start of the year," Beveridge said.

"He was the best man on the ground last week and he's probably only done that once or twice previously, so he becomes an important factor to get that drive out of the stoppage."

Star midfielder Bailey Smith will make a welcome return to the Bulldogs' midfield against Geelong after missing one match through illness, which has struck down several of his teammates this season.

"He's bounced back a bit quicker than one or two of the others," Beveridge said.

"He trained (on Wednesday) and he got through with flying colours."

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