Western Bulldogs 3.7 5.13 9.18 17.20.122
Brisbane Lions 5.0 12.3 12.5 14.6.90
Western Bulldogs: Stringer 3, Dunkley 3, McLean 2, Adams, T. Boyd, Picken, Murphy, Macrae, Johannisen, Bontempelli, Dahlhaus, Smith
Brisbane Lions: Hipwood 3, Lester 2, Keays 2, Zorko 2, Taylor, C. Beams, Robinson, McCluggage, Rockliff
Alex Docherty's Best
Western Bulldogs: Dahlhaus, Macrae, Johannisen, McLean, Stringer, Picken, Murphy
Brisbane Lions: D. Beams, Zorko, Martin, Taylor, Rockliff, Robinson, Hipwood
The Western Bulldogs have celebrated 300th-gamer and a genuine character of the game in their skipper Robert Murphy with a hard-earned, yet deserving victory, downing the Brisbane Lions by 32 points at Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon. But to say that the Bulldogs honoured their champion in fine style would've been considered a bit of a stretch, given what they had to go through to get their fourth win of the season.
For the second-straight week, the Western Bulldogs had to overcome a deficit that threatened to cause an upset. Last Friday evening, they were down by as much as 29 points to a win-less North Melbourne, but this past Saturday, found themselves down by as much as 38 points late in the second quarter, but the Dogs came alive in the second half to complete a 70-point turnaround in what was an entertaining, yet strange game of footy in front of 31,822 spectators.
Despite the Lions getting on the board first with two goals coming from promising forward Eric Hipwood, the Bulldogs controlled most of the play in the quarter and the statistics will tell you that they could've had the game sewn up by the first break. The Dogs had 20 more disposals, 13 more contested possessions and dominated the inside 50s 17-6, but couldn't capitalise on the most important statistic of them all - they had doubled Brisbane's scoring shots in the first quarter, yet it was the wasteful shots on goal from the likes of Lin Jong and Jake Stringer that were keeping the Dogs from running away with the contest.
The Lions, on the other hand, couldn't miss. After the Dogs kicked three goals in a row, Hipwood would snag his third goal of the quarter and goals to Ryan Lester and their prized draft pick Hugh McCluggage saw the Lions hold a five-point advantage at quarter time.
Both sides would continue their form in the first quarter. The Bulldogs continuing to squander easy chances at goal and butcher possession, despite an impressive Tom Boyd goal from inside 50 early on in the quarter, five players registered behinds inside the first half of the second quarter. Brisbane on the other hand could do no wrong. Some sloppy Bulldog defence would allow several Lions players to get cheap goals from the goal-square, but you know what they say: Six points is six points. The Lions flurry of goals started in the 20th minute. Ben Keays slots his second of the term, followed by goals to Lewis Taylor, Mitch Robinson and Claye Beams.
All of a sudden, a 12-point ball-game became a 37-point lead and the Lions were shockingly running away with it against an very inaccurate Western Bulldogs outfit, with Claye Beams' goal making Brisbane's scoreline late in the second quarter 12.1 to the Bulldogs' 4.13. Bob Murphy's milestone celebrations pre-game were turning more into a nightmare. But the Dogs started following the script in the second half, which was set up by a Josh Dunkley goal late in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs wasted no time in trimming the 32-point half-time deficit in the third quarter, with four goals in the span of six minutes, led by noneother than the milestone man himself, who was given a fortuitous 50-metre penalty by a Brisbane runner, who carelessly ran through the mark as Murphy was having a shot on goal from virtually on the Etihad Stadium fence. The Dogs could've taken the lead back in the third term, as they kept the visiting Lions, goal-less, but again wasteful shots on goal prevented it from happening, with the Lions holding a five-point lead at the final break.
Brisbane had worked hard to get into a position to win all afternoon, but would give it one final crack early in the last quarter, with goals to club veterans Tom Rockliff and Dayne Zorko inside the first seven minutes, but the youth of the Lions' brigade wasn't able to run with the Bulldogs, as they piled on the last seven goals of the match.
Marcus Bontempelli bobbed up with a goal in an important moment - as he so often does, and then a Luke Dahlhaus goal gifting the Dogs the lead for the first time since midway through the first quarter, and then the floodgates opened up, with five Bulldog goals in the last 10 minutes of the game to salute their captain and one of the champions of this football club.
Leading The Way
For the second-straight week, Luke Dahlhaus provided to be a key figure in the midfield, recording 28 disposals, eight marks, eight tackles, five inside 50s and a goal. He was well supported in the midfield by Jack Macrae, who led the team in disposals with 29 touches for the match, to compliment his five clearances, five inside 50s and a goal and Marcus Bontempelli, who had 22 disposals, seven tackles, six marks, four inside 50s and a goal.
Down forward, it was Liam Picken (26 disposals, four marks and a goal) and Toby McLean (24 disposals, six tackles, five marks, four inside 50s and two goals) continuing their great starts to 2017, whilst Jake Stringer continued his good form against the Lions with three goals, but it could've easily have been more as he registered three behinds, but he formed a solid partnership with second-year player Josh Dunkley, who also kicked three goals, despite playing with a battered body for most of the match.
Robert Murphy continued his great start to 2017 with another solid game, rotating between back and forward, with 20 disposals, six marks, three rebound 50s, three inside 50s and a goal in what was a vintage Robert Murphy performance. Jason Johannisen was also in form on Saturday, with 28 disposals, six inside 50s, four rebound 50s and a goal.
There has to be a solid amount of kudos to Brisbane coach Chris Fagan to how this team has turned around from a disastrous 2016 campaign. Despite being 1-4, this Brisbane team has more often than not this year, given it a fair crack despite the lack of experience in the side, and coming up against the reigning premiers, it was pretty clear from the outset they had a 'Backs-against-the-wall' mentality, which almost earned them an upset win.
Led from the front, with captain Dayne Beams putting in another exceptional performance, recording 36 disposals, nine clearances, six inside 50s and five tackles, with fantastic support in the midfield in the form of Dayne Zorko (32 disposals, eight clearances, eight tackles, six marks and two goals), Tom Rockliff (30 disposals, 10 marks, five clearances and a goal) and ruckman Stefan Martin (49 hitouts, 18 disposals, six marks and four tackles).
Lewis Taylor (22 disposals, six marks, and a goal), Mitch Robinson (21 disposals, eight tackles, five clearances and a goal) and Sam Mayes (23 disposals, seven marks and six tackles) were also very productive, whilst Brisbane fans would've been pleased with the likes of how Hugh McCluggage roamed around in only his third game of league footy, how Daniel McStay and Harris Andrews were pillars in defence and how Eric Hipwood continues to emerge as being a legitimate forward threat.
A tough month lies ahead of the reigning premiers, as they have to play teams inside the top eight ladder GWS in Canberra, Richmond, West Coast in Perth and Geelong at Geelong. One has to sense that this upcoming month determines where the Dogs will be heading in 2017, but if the past three weeks is anything to go by, then Bulldog fans might start to worry.
Next Friday night's game against the Greater Western Sydney Giants will be the first meeting of these two teams since that epic Preliminary Final last year at Spotless Stadium. The Giants, who are on a four-game winning streak following their round one loss to Adelaide, have been pretty impressive this past month, regardless of who they've been facing, but will be hell-bent in making amends for such a heartbreaking Preliminary Final loss.
Strap yourselves in for a blockbuster game next Friday night Doggie fans!!!