It says plenty about Luke Beveridge’s approach to coaching that he could witness the most brutal of finishes to an AFL match and still see the positives.
The Western Bulldogs had shown their quality against the reigning premiers and led with a minute to play only for James Sicily to snatch a three-point victory at the death.
“We’re seeing it as a glass half (full) situation,” he said.
In just 26 AFL matches, Beveridge has victories to his name against every AFL club except Geelong and Sunday’s opponents, Hawthorn.
While Beveridge acknowledged the disappointment in falling short of the biggest scalp of his tenure at the club, he preferred to talk about the positives.
A third quarter where the Bulldogs’ hunger for the competitive ball reduced Hawthorn to a rabble and Caleb Daniel’s career-best performance in nullifying Sam Mitchell’s influence.
The Bulldogs also enjoyed a spread of 10 goalkickers while Beveridge had to be pleased with the form of Luke Dahlhaus, Jordan Roughead, Joel Hamling and ex-Hawk Matthew Suckling.
“I loved the way we fought back … the Hawks are a strong outfit and hard to combat,” Beveridge said.
“We’re all disappointed. The boys worked extremely hard to give ourselves a look at it.
“We just created so many blatant opportunities that we squandered.
“It’s a loss and it’s one that was within our grasp.”
There were positives too in the crowd, with the 46,808 people who turned out at Etihad Stadium contributing to the Bulldogs’ best home attendance since 2010.
Beveridge said it was because of his troops.
“Our fans have been tremendous. We’ve got to keep giving credit to our players and the momentum they’ve given us,” he said.
The obvious downside to the match was the skipper.
Beveridge made a point of separating the two losses – of the match and of his captain Bob Murphy, who hobbled off in that dramatic final minute with a suspected ACL rupture.
If the coach’s body language was anything to go on, scans will confirm the injury and a 12-month layoff for Murphy as early as Monday.
“I think it’s bad news. The worst I think,” Beveridge said.