AFL 1 year ago

JLT Report: Dogs Lose, But Plenty Of Positives To Take From It

  • JLT Report: Dogs Lose, But Plenty Of Positives To Take From It

    MELBOURNE, VICTORIA - FEBRUARY 18: Robert Murphy of the Bulldogs runs with the ball away from Jack Viney of the Demons during the 2017 JLT Community Series match between the Western Bulldogs and the Melbourne Demons at Whitten Oval on February 18, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Western Bulldogs     0.2.0     1.6.3     1.8.4
Melbourne                   0.4.2     0.8.3     0.12.5


Western Bulldogs:
Cloke, Johannisen
Melbourne: Nil


Western Bulldogs: Dahlhaus 2, Hunter 2, Cloke, Dale, Lynch, Daniel, McLean
Melbourne: Hogan 4, Weideman 2, Petracca, Gawn, Viney, Bugg, Jones, Neal-Bullen, Brayshaw, Garlett

Alex Docherty's Best
Western Bulldogs: Dahlhaus, Liberatore, Cloke, Hunter, McLean, Murphy
Melbourne: Hogan, Lewis, Gawn, Jones, O.McDonald, Viney, Vince

The Western Bulldogs' men's team were back out on the field on Saturday afternoon for the first time since that historic one day in October when they captured their first flag in over 60 years as they hosted the Demons at the Whitten Oval in the first of three pre-season games for both sides in the JLT Community Series

But whilst the Dogs didn't get a winning result - losing by six points, there was a lot to take out of this game, most of those points being positive. For starters, there were a number of premiership stars from the Dogs that weren't out on the park. Names such as Marcus Bontempelli, Liam Picken, Matthew Boyd, Easton Wood and Dale Morris all sat out of this game, giving the younger and more inexperienced players such as Bailey Dale, Lukas Webb and Bradley Lynch an opportunity.

With the intensity of this game almost identical to a regular season game, you would've been forgiven if you'd mistaken this contest to a round one meeting, but for the Dogs to come so close to a team that should be in contention for finals this year, speaks volumes about this side going forward, and I have no doubts that they will be one of the teams to beat this year.

Captain Robert Murphy played his first game since round three last year, when he went down with that ACL injury in the dying stages of the game. Murphy he had several moments throughout the game that suggested that he will back to his wily, yet brilliant best in 2017 with his trademark run and carry off half-back and his elite skills with the football. So keen was Bob to make his return, that he was at the Whitten Oval four hours - possibly more, before the first bounce.

Whilst he looked like Bob had not skipped a beat, the best news from his first hit-out is that he got through the game unscathed, unfortunately the same can't be said for Jordan Roughead, who landed awkwardly just before quarter time and will have scans on his knee in the coming days to confirm the severity of his injury.

Another sub-plot to the Western Bulldogs' quest of back-to-back flags will be the influence that former Pie Travis Cloke will have in his new colours that be the red, white and blue, but if Saturday had any indication how he'll go this year, it looked like he will make a solid impact as he made an encouraging start to his career at Whitten Oval. 

He took a strong contested grab in the opening minutes and kicked truly to give the Dogs their first goal of the game. He took eight marks - three of those being contested marks - along with 12 disposals and kicked a ripping nine-pointer in the second quarter, and whilst it may have only been one game, it looked like he was enjoying his footy and Doggies supporters from everywhere should be excited for what he can do in a forward line that shouldn't be short of options this year.

Another forward that marked his return in the red, white and blue was Stewart Crameri who made his first appearance for the Bulldogs since the Elimination Final of 2015 after he missed the entirety of last season with suspension for his involvement in Essendon's supplements scandal. Having him back in the fold for 2017 is essentially like having a new recruit on deck. On Saturday, Crameri had 16 disposals and missed a couple of shots on goal.

Luke Dahlhaus was the Bulldogs' best player on Saturday as he continued to fight on as the game went by. He had a team-high 27 disposals, eight tackles, four clearances and two goals. He also had good midfield support from Tom Liberatore (20 disposals, seven tackles) and Lachie Hunter (16 disposals, four marks and two goals).

The Opposition

In what has been dubbed as the 'Simon Goodwin Era' at Demonland, the big talking point in the lead-up to this game was the club debut of the premiership-winning Ex-Hawk Jordan Lewis who made headlines during the off-season with his switch from brown and gold to red and blue. His performance suggests he will play a big part in Melbourne's 2017 campaign, as he finished with 28 disposals, four clearances and four rebound 50s. 

Another Demon that made his debut in the red and blue was Jake Melksham who was traded from Essendon at the end of the 2015 season, but like Crameri, he would be suspended for the entire 2016 season. Whilst his performance might not've been as influencing as Lewis', he'll look like he'll feature prominently in Melbourne's defensive half this year, along with another ex-Bomber in Michael Hibberd, who departed Windy Hill at the end of last year.'

Jesse Hogan looked like he'll make another big step in his career this year, after he bagged a match-winning four goals from 11 disposals and five marks, while on the other end of the ground, Oscar McDonald also looked good and could be one to watch improve greatly this year - he had 19 disposals, nine marks and four rebound 50s, whilst All-Australian Max Gawn was prominent with 26 hitouts, 13 disposals, four inside 50s, four marks and a goal.

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