Coach weighs in on star’s ugly ‘crash landing’

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge admits it’s “too early” to tell how long high flying forward Aaron Naughton will spend on the sidelines after being subbed out of Sunday’s game against North Melbourne with concussion.

The Bulldogs will be without Naughton for at least next week’s clash with Sydney due to the league’s 12-day concussion protocol.

Naughton landed heavily after leaping for a huge mark on defensive 50 late in the second quarter and left the ground immediately before being subbed out at half time.

Fingers crossed Aaron Naughton is OK after this heavy fall 🤞

📺 WATCH #AFLDogsNorth on @kayosports:

"He's knocking himself out". 🤕

Should Aaron Naughton curb his ferocious attack on marking contests after his crash landing against the Kangaroos?#9WWOS#AFL

“It’s too early, I’ve got no answers for you on that,” Beveridge said after the 29-point win.

“We knew that we needed to look after him … and our guy’s called (the substitution) early,” Beveridge said.

Dogs’ fans will also be hoping youngster Ed Richards will be fit next week after he was a late withdrawal due to illness.

Beveridge said Richards “just didn’t feel well” after the captain’s run on Saturday ahead of the contest against the Kangaroos.

“He went home and he just didn’t feel well and he had a bit of a tough night and he would have been low on energy and not a good idea to play,” he said.

Beveridge praised the performances of livewire forward Cody Weightman, who starred with four goals, including three in the first quarter, and Mitch Wallis, who was the late inclusion for Richards.

Wallis’ kicked three fourth term goals to help seal the game for the Dogs as North Melbourne threatened to close the margin with 12 shots on goal in the last quarter.

“In the first instance to be unfortunate to be the 23rd, (Wallis) did enough when he came on last week to earn a spot in the 22, so it was good to be able to play him again in a full game,” Beveridge said.

“At different stages he was important … for him to be quite clutch in that last quarter and convert for us when they had some momentum and control of the game, which was great for him and important for us.

“He sparked us early Cody, he’s got a really strong aerial game and runs to the right spots … wrapped for him to be able to kick four goals, that’s an important milestone for him.”

Beveridge also praised a “very good” North Melbourne outfit, who the Bulldogs thumped by 128 points back in round 3.

“They would have come here today wanting some kind of retribution … I thought they were very good and very difficult to beat, they had a lot of chances in that last quarter that they squandered,” he said.

The Bulldogs now sit on top of the AFL ladder by percentage after round 16 after Melbourne lost to GWS on Saturday.

David Noble took over as North Melbourne’s senior coach at the start of this season. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

Noble pursuits
David Noble says his North Melbourne side is “building belief” after another positive performance against new ladder leaders the Western Bulldogs on Sunday evening.

Noble’s Kangaroos went down by 29 points at Marvel Stadium but pushed the Dogs for the entire four quarters, and were threatening to stage a final term comeback if it wasn’t for inaccurate kicking.

The Roos had 12 shots on goal in the fourth quarter but only managed to convert four, with late inclusion Mitch Wallis kicking the only three goals of the term for the Dogs to ice the game.

“I think we’re building belief, we want to be a team that’s hard to play against,” Noble said after the game.

“We probably left our run a little bit too late. Our guys stuck to the task really well and gave it a real crack in that last quarter.

“The last quarter (there) was a high volume of entries, we just couldn’t quite put enough scoreboard pressure on in the end.

“We’ve been criticised, probably fairly, for our last quarters and to have that sort of effort and drive in the last quarter was quite pleasing.

“We’ve taken steps in the last month, not only tonight, but since the bye, we’ve been way more consistent.

“That learning of how to respond in different time frames when the game needs to be played at a slightly different level when you don’t quite have it on your terms is something that the guys have responded to really well in the last month.”

Noble said Cameron Zurhaar continued to impress and was really beginning to understand his role as a “strike forward”.

Zurhaar kicked four goals, including two in the final quarter when the Roos were mounting a late surge.

“He led the way really well up there, what helps is better delivery, so when we get our ball movement better and more consistent through games then that allows him to execute some of those patterns,” Noble said.

Noble said the Kangaroos also had a bit more pressure on selection with several players putting in strong performances at VFL level.

“We weren’t fortunate to have that pressure earlier in the year,” he said.

“A few of our guys have been going really well … (defender) Paddy Walker’s been one that’s continuing to impress a bit, (ruckman) Tom Campbell played another great game, it’s great that this week we had 40 players on the track … that’s our best number for six or seven weeks, so really important that you have that heat for selection.”

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