Rugby League

Bruce’s 10-goal haul revives 100 goals in a season debate

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge is unwilling to predict whether Josh Bruce’s 10-goal effort against North Melbourne is a sign a player could kick 100 goals in a season but he admits the effort puts the discussion back on the agenda.

With the man-on-the-mark rule opening up play and scores increasing, the game’s leading goalkickers are just below 100 goals in a season pace after two rounds.

The Bulldogs’ Josh Bruce kicks his 10th goal in the big win over the Kangaroos.Credit:Getty Images

And coaches are adopting an attacking approach, with Beveridge admitting the Bulldogs opened up their forward line late in the game to help Bruce kick 10 goals on their way to their 128-point demolition of the Kangaroos.

“I don’t know whether it is going to be a trend,” Beveridge said when asked about the return of high-scoring forwards.

Sydney champion Lance Franklin was the most recent player to kick 100 goals in a season, having achieved the milestone in 2008 when playing with Hawthorn, with 10 goals being kicked in a match on just 11 previous occasions since 2010. In the 1990s there were 69 occasions when a player kicked 10 goals in a game.

Josh Bruce celebrates reaching his double-figure tally.Credit:Getty Images

Bruce sits on 14 goals after his haul, with two of his three previous bags of six (his highest previous tally) also coming against North Melbourne and the other being against the Gold Coast.

He battled last season – his first at the Bulldogs – but he returned fitter for pre-season and has started better.

“I’m ecstatic for him,” Beveridge said. “He went away and trained hard … he definitely came back a bit lighter.”

Despite the record margin, it wasn’t all positive news for the Bulldogs, who lost Ryan Gardner in the first minute of the match after he was involved in a heavy collision with teammate Alex Keath.

Beveridge said Gardner will need surgery to fix the AC joint, comparing the injury to that of teammate Hayden Crozier who was ruled out for two months on the eve of round one.

He said Lewis Young was at the front of the queue to replace Gardner as the Bulldogs prepare for the huge task against the Brisbane Lions talls, Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood, at Ballarat in round four.

“We will definitely need a key position player to help us,” Beveridge said.

The coach also said playing two rucks, Tim English and Stefan Martin, and having Bruce and Aaron Naughton in the forward line, had squeezed their vice-captain Mitch Wallis, who was the club’s leading goalkicker in 2020, out of the side.

“Now we’re playing the two and it affects ‘Wally’ … Mitch had to make way this week which is difficult for him to swallow. I’m sure at some point he will come into the team. We just need to make sure we keep picking the team that is right,” Beveridge said.

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