Hervey Bay Seagulls’ David Beach and Brothers Bulldogs’ Andrew Hatfield contest the bounce at Faircloth Oval.
Hervey Bay Seagulls’ David Beach and Brothers Bulldogs’ Andrew Hatfield contest the bounce at Faircloth Oval. Max Fleet

Keep focus on win plan: coach

BROTHERS Bulldogs do not need to be warned of the cost of inattention and poor focus in finals football.

Last year’s AFL Wide Bay bridesmaids already know that all too well.

Bulldogs coach Wayne Ling is determined to shake off the “chokers” tag attached to his team after it charged through the 2009 season with only one defeat and then came to pieces to go down in the grand final.

“The defeat is still pretty fresh in the boys’ minds so they’ll be working hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

For a chance to battle inter-city rivals Across The Waves in the grand final, Bulldogs must weather the attacking might of Hervey Bay Bombers in Maryborough.

The reigning premiers have contested the past 13 grand finals, a statistic Ling has impressed upon his team.

“Finals football is always cutthroat but Hervey Bay is going to be particularly difficult,” he said.

“It’s a crucial game for both clubs and both clubs want it, but there’s only going to be one winner.”

The injury-plagued side has an unusually long team list but will still be without the attacking power of full forward Clint Ennis, utility player Chris Heaslip and backs Mitch Sartori and Jamie Howden.

Their absence will leave a void, but Ling said if each player concentrated on the job at hand, his team would be able to outgun the Bombers.

“The guys have been putting together good football,” he said. “They’ve been linking up on the field, talking to each other, playing hard behind the ball.

“If the players are attentive and concentrate on the game at hand, then we’ll win, but if they lose sight of the end goal and falter, Hervey Bay will take us out.”

On the top of the list for Ling will be controlling Hervey Bay danger men Brent Dean and Brad Richards.

“They’re a good team and have talented footballers spread right across the field,” he said.

“We’re going to need to put on constant attacking pressure and make sure we can control them.”

Ling said morale of his troops was high and players would enter the game with a will to win.

“The guys’ attitudes are the best they’ve been,” he said.

“They know what’s expected of them and they know what’s at stake.”

Ling will put his side through a last-minute fitness test to ensure all those who want the chance to play finals football are fit enough to do so.

“I’m not taking any chances,” he said.

“If they’re not fit, they won’t be playing.”

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