AFL 1 year ago

Too Strong: Cats Prevail On A Big Night As Dogs Gain Another Couple To The Injury List

Western Bulldogs 5.2    8.2  8.8         11.12.78
Geelong         5.1    9.2 13.5 16.7.103

Goals:
Western Bulldogs: Dickson 3, T. Boyd 3, Dunkley, Stringer, Smith, Jong, Cordy
Geelong: Stanley 5, Dangerfield 3, Hawkins 3, Motlop 2, Menzel, Duncan, Bartel

Alex Docherty's Best
Western Bulldogs: Dahlhaus, T. Boyd, Johannisen, Macrae, Hunter, Daniel
Geelong: Stanley, Dangerfield, Mackie, Enright, Bartel, Duncan, Motlop

The Bulldogs have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season after Geelong handed them a 25-point loss last night in a hard-fought contest at Simonds Stadium. 

The loss deals a massive blow to the Doggies' top four aspirations, and if that wasn't enough for the fans, the ever-so-growing injury list down at Whitten Oval has added a couple of new names after last night, with Tom Liberatore suffering what seems to be a serious ankle injury midway through the second quarter and Jack Macrae injuring his hamstring late in the third quarter. Liberatore had 17 touches and was among the Bulldogs' better players before he went down with the injury.

With several big-name players out of the Bulldogs' line-up for this week, a lot of people hadn't expected the Bulldogs to give the Cats a huge scare, but the Dogs' looked a vastly different side to the one that lost to St. Kilda just a week ago. They pressured the Cats into turnovers, and when they had the ball, they did look very dangerous, recording 53 inside 50s to Geelong's 47. Last week against the Saints, the Dogs only registered 69 tackles, this week they had 81 tackles.

After only being down by a point at quarter time and a goal at half time, the third quarter proved to be the decisive quarter, with the Cats piling on four goals to the Bulldogs' six behinds, but the Dogs wouldn't lie down in the fourth quarter, continuing to threaten to topple the Cats until the final siren. The Dogs won the last quarter, but the damage had already been done. Having said that, the Dogs were far from disgraced last night and should be encouraged as they head towards the final month of the home and away season.

Leading The Way

Before going down with his ankle injury, Tom Liberatore had a then game-high 17 disposals and had nullified the influence of star Geelong midfielder Patrick Dangerfield. Jack Macrae had 20 disposals and until he went down with his hamstring injury, had done a solid job in curbing the influence of Joel Selwood. Had those two have not gone down with injury, would the result have ended in our favour?

Luke Dahlhaus came back from his knee injury in fine style, recording an equal team-high 26 disposals, five tackles, five inside 50s and four clearances and was probably the best player on the ground for mine. Jason Johannisen and Liam Picken also had 26 disposal games, with the former recording a team-high five rebound 50s.

Tom Boyd performed superbly in the absence of Jack Redpath and kicked three goals on the night, as well as recording 18 disposals, four marks and three clearances, but what pleased me the most about his performance was the fact that he was attacking the ball with aggression, whether it was in the air or on the ground. That's exactly what you want him to be doing right now for a young and developing key-position forward. Other Dogs that shone on the night included Shane Biggs who had 24 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and three rebound 50s, Lachie Hunter, who had 25 disposals and three clearances and Caleb Daniel, who didn't stop trying all night long with 20 disposals and five tackles.

The Opposition

On a night where the Cats celebrated the milestones of Corey Enright and Jimmy Bartel, it was former St. Kilda player Rhys Stanley who stole the show and proved to be the difference in the end. He snagged a career-best five goals for the Cats and took five contested marks as well as 11 hitouts in the ruck. The other player who was magnificent for the Cats was Patrick Dangerfield, who managed to get going once Liberatore came off with the injury, he finished with 33 disposals, 10 inside 50s, six clearances and three goals.

The milestone men didn't have a bad night either, Enright had 27 disposals and four tackles, whilst Bartel had 25 disposals, seven marks and fittingly kicked the last goal of the match in the dying seconds. Steven Motlop also had a fine game with 21 disposals, seven inside 50s, five tackles and three goals as well as Mitch Duncan, who had 25 disposals,five tackles and a goal.

 With this win, the Cats look to have a place in the top four stitched up and possibly a spot in the top two, as they have Essendon at Etihad, Richmond at the MCG, Brisbane in Brisbane and Melbourne at Geelong in their final month of the home and away season.

Next Week

For the Bulldogs, a spot in the top four is not out of reach just yet, but it is going to be bloody difficult for a team that is currently sitting in 7th on the ladder and with a percentage that is pretty weak compared to the rest of the teams above them on the ladder. 

Next week provides a good chance to get back on the winners list against a North Melbourne team that was once on top of the ladder at 9-0 at the start of the year. Like the Doggies, the Kangaroos have had their fair share of injuries, which explains their fall from grace, only winning two games since then. Can the Doggies get back on the winners list next weekend?

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