Bulldogs aiming to avoid Hawthorn slip-up

The Western Bulldogs will take a giant step towards securing a finals berth if they can beat Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

Bulldogs coach LUKE BEVERIDGE.
Bulldogs coach LUKE BEVERIDGE. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge hopes the recent flops of fellow finals contenders will serve as a timely reminder to his players ahead of Sunday's clash with lowly Hawthorn.

The Bulldogs upset win over West Coast last week lifted them to within just 0.9 percentage points of the eighth-placed GWS Giants.

It means wins over Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval on Sunday and Fremantle next week would guarantee the Bulldogs a finals berth, given that GWS and sixth-placed St Kilda will face off in the final round.

The Giants' shock loss to Adelaide and Melbourne's flop against Fremantle are just two recent examples of finals contenders falling flat against lowly teams when so much was on the line.

The Bulldogs are keen to avoid the same trap against a Hawthorn outfit that have lost 10 of their past 11 games.

"It's a bit of a warning to us as well, isn't it?" Beveridge said.

"You can't be off your absolute best at any time (or) you're going to be vulnerable.

"We know historically Hawthorn have been able to conjure some really important strategic plans to beat teams when they're down.

"Obviously Clarko (Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson) is very, very good at that and so I'm sure they'll have something up their sleeve for us.

"We've got to prepare accordingly and steel ourselves and have our resolve a bit high-end to make sure that we don't leave a window there."

Bulldogs spearheads Aaron Naughton and Josh Bruce will be aiming to cash in against the second worst defensive team in the competition.

Beveridge says he has been thrilled with the duo's influence on games.

"There hasn't been a key defender who's got a hold of us," Beveridge said.

"When you consider Geelong took one intercept mark against us the previous week ... that's a great sign for us.

"West Coast with their arsenal of Barrass and McGovern and others didn't have a high intercept game after quarter time, so we were better as a team.

"There's some exciting stuff there in the future for us."

For Hawthorn the final two rounds are all about experimentation, with Clarkson keen to set the foundation for a return to finals in 2021.