JINDERA captain Tom Weldon says the youthful exuberance of the Bulldog pups has been the major driving force behind the club’s late-season revival.
The Bulldogs looked dead and buried as a finals force when they slumped to eighth on the ladder after a 26-point loss to Osborne in round 13.
But they have since been able to resurrect their season with youngsters Nick Nott, Ben Dower and Zac Stuart leading the charge.
They still must defeat an equally desperate fifth-placed CDHBU on Saturday and either Lockhart or Rand-Walbundrie to guarantee a finals berth.
But Weldon said the Bulldogs had gained plenty of confidence for their cut-throat encounter after recently claiming the huge scalp of Brock-Burrum and pushing Henty to the limit last weekend.
“It’s definitely a must-win for us this weekend if we are to play finals,” Weldon said.
“But internally we feel we are starting to hit form at the right time of the season.
“The young kids have really come a long way since the start of the year and have been the biggest difference over the past month.
“Kids like Nick Nott and, while Ben Dower is a bit older, have been huge for us in the ruck and in attack.
“Zac Stuart also does a lot of work which goes unnoticed.”
After battling injuries and form, burly spearhead Ash Murray has also returned to the senior line-up in the past fortnight to provide a strong marking presence deep in attack.
Weldon has also enhanced his reputation as one of the league’s premier defenders with his ability to contain the opposition’s most dangerous forward.
The reliable defender kept Saint Darryn McKimmie goalless two weeks ago and Henty’s Shannon Terlich to one goal last week.
After enjoying the bye last round, CDHBU could welcome back key forward Luke Cowan, who has been missing since round 10 with a shoulder complaint.
Cowan proved the difference when the teams met earlier in the season with six goals and his biggest bag so far this season.
Although Weldon didn’t have the match-up on that occasion, he has already put his hand up for the job if Cowan plays on Saturday.
“I think they kicked 16.1 to our 8.13 last time we played so we kicked ourselves out of the match,” he said.
“We are expecting Cowan to play ... and I’m looking forward to the challenge of playing on him.”
The Bulldogs could welcome back Julian Hayes to replace Chris Hayes who was concussed last week.