Bulldogs confirm Naughton's injury not as bad as feared

By Roger Vaughan
Updated May 24 2024 - 3:20pm, first published 3:16pm
Western Bulldogs forward Aaron Naughton was in agony after his knee injury in the loss to the Swans. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)
Western Bulldogs forward Aaron Naughton was in agony after his knee injury in the loss to the Swans. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

The Western Bulldogs have dodged an ACL bullet after key forward Aaron Naughton was hurt in their AFL loss to Sydney.

While Naughton will miss at least four to six weeks with what the Bulldogs call a moderate medial ligament injury in his right knee, they say there is no anterior cruciate ligament damage in the joint.

They expect him to miss four to six weeks, whereas an ACL rupture would have ended his season.

The Bulldogs were brave against the ladder leaders on Thursday night at Marvel Stadium, rallying from five goals down early in the last quarter to only go down by 14 points.

That was despite losing Anthony Scott and Ed Richards to concussion, as well as Naughton's knee injury.

Scott and Richards will definitely miss next Friday night's game against Collingwood under the 12-day concussion protocol.

Coach Luke Beveridge was cautiously optimistic post-match about Naughton.

"The indications are that hopefully it's not as extreme as an (ACL), but you never can tell ... fingers crossed," he said.

Scott's first AFL game this season lasted just three minutes before he was forced off after a head clash.

Richards was the Bulldogs' best player in the first half and his concussion early in the third term was a major blow.

Like teammate Tom Liberatore, who could return in the next couple of weeks from his latest concussion, Scott and Richards have a history of head knocks.

Beveridge praised his team for their fight against the Swans, while lamenting their inability to nail more chances.

The Bulldogs kicked an inaccurate 12.16 to Sydney's 16.6 after spraying 8.22 in last week's win over GWS.

"There was great integrity in what the boys did, obviously against the top side. It's just a shame we had a bit of bad luck," Beveridge said.

"You never lose and feel like a winner, but in my books, our players are winners tonight.

"System and game style looked pretty good. We just made some monumental blues and missed some monumental chances to give ourselves any real chance to win.

"So what do you take out of that? We'll be encouraged by that, but we need to do something with it as well."

Beveridge didn't bite when asked about the critical and contentious 50m penalty paid against Latham Vandermeer, which gifted Hayden McLean the late goal that sealed Sydney's win.

"What can you say? I will always make sure I don't comment on the umpiring," a frustrated Beveridge said post-match.

"Whether it's there or not, I don't really know. Ultimately the decision was made and we have to live with it."

Beveridge praised young players Rhylee West, Riley Garcia and Ryley Sanders, who were dynamic in the midfield when the Bulldogs needed a final-term lift.

The Bulldogs coach referred to Melbourne independent broadcasting to describe the trio.

"It was like a Triple R radio station in there ...(plus) the experienced one in Adam Treloar, holding his end up.

"They did an enormous job."

Australian Associated Press