CHRIS BANT has awoken the sleeping Bulldogs.
Panmure has not played Warrnambool and District league finals in five years but the south-west town's absence is set to end thanks to the leadership of its first-year senior playing coach.
With one round of the regular season to go, the Bulldogs have secured the final top-five spot thanks to a handy last round bye, which guarantees them four points and ends Allansford's hopes of playing finals for the first time since 2015.
And it has earned it after having "elimination finals every week" in the latter part of the season.
The rise comes a year after the Bulldogs recorded their lowest ladder position in 10 years, simultaneously claiming the wooden spoon.
Coached by Tim Condon, who now coaches under Adam Dowie at Hampden league leader North Warrnambool Eagles, the side secured a solitary win from 16 matches.
The Bulldogs also finished with their lowest average score (64 points a game) and highest average score conceded (112) in the past 10 seasons.
This year Bant has got the most out of his list, which included a host of returning players.
The premiership captain has guided his side back into the light, with the Bulldogs recording their highest average score (84 points a game) since 2015 and lowest conceded score (72) since 2014, when they finished runners-up to Merrivale.
But it's the last five weeks is where Bant has really brought to life a Bulldogs side capable of packing a tough bite.
They've scored five wins on the trot - including a win over minor premiers Kolora-Noorat (41 points).
In those five weeks they have scored 63, 148, 138, 110 and 106 points to head into the finals averaging 113 points a game while conceding just 48.
The high scores are the result of the recent form of the Bulldogs' prominent scorers - Bant, playing assistant Paddy Mahony, captain Louis Kew, Ben Robertson, Lachlan McLeod and Todd White.
The potent attack has scored 59 per cent of the side's goals this season but in the past five that has jumped to 75 with the stars scoring 63 of the Bulldogs' past 83 goals.
With the in-form attack the Bulldogs' defence has shown it can keep the enemy at bay with the side's back line only conceding more than 10 goals one one occasion.
Before the final five games the Bulldogs had only conceded less than 10 goals on three occasions.
The next challenge awaiting Bant's side is to find a way to beat the side's above it.
The Bulldogs have only beaten one of the top five teams and is looking likely to face Old Collegians in the first week of finals.
The last time the two sides met was in round eight when the Warriors won by 35 points.
But now the Bulldogs are wide awake and their chances of victory in the elimination final have skyrocketed.
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