GOLDEN Square coach Nick Carter expects last week’s shock loss to Maryborough to serve as a timely wake-up call as his side fights for a Bendigo Football League finals berth.
The Bulldogs travel to Canterbury Park on Saturday to battle Eaglehawk in what’s a clash of two of the three teams vying for the last pair of finals positions.
The five-time defending premier Bulldogs (8-7) are fourth on the ladder, a game clear of the sixth-placed Hawks (7-8).
“Maryborough played a hard brand of footy last week, really attacked the footy and were desperate, which is the way we aspire to play,” Carter said.
“We took some learnings from the way Maryborough played and we are going to hold on to those, because they are going to be important moving forward. We’ve got three games to go that we need to win to get into the finals and it starts this week against Eaglehawk.
“It’s a good chance for us to bounce back and I’m confident we can do that on Saturday.”
Despite conceding his Bulldogs were found wanting against a more harder and desperate Maryborough, Carter said he hadn’t taken the old-school “bring your mouth guard to training” approach this week.
“We’ve had a couple of long sessions and I’m really confident that the boys will bounce back and play with that real urgency, attack on the footy and pressure that we’ve shown at different times this year,” Carter said.
“As you go into the last few games of the season as we are now, you need to be able to do that consistently, so that’s what we’ll be going after.
“If we can’t be consistent in our hardness and attack on the footy in these next three games, then we’re not going to be ready to play finals.
“Hopefully, last week showed a lot of the guys how hard you need to be at the footy and the gut-running required, because that’s what finals are all about.”
The Bulldogs - who can all but secure a finals berth with a win on Saturday - have lost two key players to injuries in Hamish Morcom and Jon Coe, while they welcome back a pair of talls in Lachlan Woodward and Matt Tyrell among their five changes.
While the Bulldogs were beaten last week, the Hawks are also coming off a disappointing performance when they copped their biggest loss of the season - a 105-point hiding at the hands of Gisborne.
However, the Hawks could be boosted by the returns of key midfielders Brodie Filo and Ben McPhee - who hasn’t played since round six because of a broken scaphoid - for Saturday’s clash.
Both have been named on a Hawks’ “from” interchange bench, as well as Hayden Collins, who also missed last week’s belting.
Saturday’s game starts at 2.20pm.