WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge admits his side is operating in "spits and spurts” as it battles to gain momentum.
The Dogs are 2-1 ahead of a history-making Good Friday clash against North Melbourne, but have struggled to assert their authority throughout games, with their clearance and contested ball numbers well down on last year.
"That's been our lot so far. We've had significant momentum swings in all our games and it's not ideal,” Beveridge said this morning.
"It's not really the way we want to play, but quite a lot of that you can put down to the opposition and the evenness of the competition, I think.
"But we want a bit more control during games.”
Beveridge said Liam Picken was a strong chance to play despite being concussed in last week's loss shock to Fremantle, but the versatile matchwinner was yet to be tested.
"He seems to be fine. We'll test him today (Thursday) ... to make sure he's OK to go and play and perform,” he said.
"Even when players have passed that test there's go guarantee a player can get back to their best straight away, but as long as he gets the clearance from our doctors he'll definitely play.”
The Dogs' VFL season finally gets underway this weekend, with Mitch Wallis nearing a return from a broken leg.
The midfielder, who went down with the horrific injury in Round 18 last year, will play either next week or the week after.
"He's training with everyone and he looks strong and fit so he'll engage over the next couple of weeks,” Beveridge said.
"It may be in the back of his mind ... there may be some little grind in his mind about what happened last year, but I'm sure he'll be fine.”
Beveridge said the Western Bulldogs were thrilled to be bestowed the inaugural Good Friday clash.
"I think the club is feeling good about itself that we're one of the two pioneering clubs playing,” he said.
"It's a great opportunity ... we like to think that we'll be able to play this game for a number of years.”
But the premiership coach, who had a strong catholic upbringing, has one concern.
"On a day like Good Friday you get back to what's important in how you treat people and how you live your life ... but I'm fine with it.
"I love a meat pie though. It's probably the one temptation that gets tough on Good Friday.”
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