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Bulldogs' AFL flag experience an advantage

Daily Mail
Daily Mail

Tough midfielder Josh Dunkley believes the Western Bulldogs' AFL fairytale experience from five years ago will give them an edge over Melbourne in this season's premiership decider.

In 2016, the Bulldogs famously won four consecutive cut-throat finals, rising from seventh on the ladder to end a 62-year flag drought.

It left Melbourne nursing the competition's longest active streak without a premiership - the former VFL powerhouse's last grand final triumph coming in 1964.

But now the Demons are minor premiers and sentimental favourites for this year's flag, riding a wave of support similar to that enjoyed by the Bulldogs in 2016.

Dunkley was one of nine players from that premiership team who featured in last week's preliminary final trouncing of Port Adelaide.

He said that group's experience would serve the Bulldogs well in preparation for next week's grand final at Optus Stadium in Perth.

"To have those guys there and know what (Melbourne) are going through, I think, is really important, for sure, because you know what to expect from them," Dunkley said.

"They're going to come out with a full head of steam like we did in 2016 and it's going to be an arm wrestle.

"They're a great side, they've been one of the better sides all year, and we've had some great contests with them, so it's going to be a great game.

"We know what to expect from them and they're going to put their best foot forward."

While the Bulldogs now have a vastly different make-up to that 2016 premiership side, Dunkley said the current group has continued developing the tight-knit culture forged under Luke Beveridge.

It has served them well this season and was evident after the preliminary final, when vision of the players singing and dancing in the change room after the match became public.

"It's pretty special," Dunkley said.

"That vision, we've done that for quite a while, and we really like enjoying wins.

"After losses it's really hard, you see the huge disappointment, but after wins it's really important to celebrate together.

"We've built that culture not only over the past 12 months but over the past five or six years."

The Bulldogs have reached the grand final from fifth spot this season, winning three sudden-death finals in three different states to get there.

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