AFL 1 year ago

Friday Night Thriller: Dogs Hold Off Brave Pies To Keep Top Four Hopes Alive

Western Bulldogs   3.3 7.6     11.7   14.11.95
Collingwood   2.4 7.5     11.7   14.8.92

Goals

Western Bulldogs: Jong 2, Dickson 2, Bontempelli 2, Hrovat 2, Cordy 2, Dunkley, Stringer, Smith, Hunter
Collingwood: Moore 3, Sidebottom 2, De Goey 2, Oxley 2, Treloar, White, Phillips, Greenwood, Maynard

Alex Docherty's Best

Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Dahlhaus, Jong, Picken, M. Boyd, Dunkley, Johannisen
Collingwood: Treloar, Aish, Grundy, Moore, Sidebottom, Howe

The Western Bulldogs were given an almighty scare by the Collingwood camp on Friday night, but held their nerve in the dying minutes to hold off the Pies by only three points to record the Doggies' first win under the Friday night lights since round 15, 2011 in what can only be described as a real nail-biter. The win keeps the Doggies' chances of at least a home elimination final intact, as they remain a game behind Geelong who sit in fourth spot on the ladder at the conclusion of round 21, and with games against Essendon and Fremantle to come, they remain an outside chance for the double chance.

This was a game that saw both teams take control of the game at various points of the game, with both sides getting out to three-goal leads which was the biggest margin of the game, the Bulldogs taking a three-goal lead midway through the second term and Collingwood taking a three-goal lead midway through the third term, with the difference at each break under a goal – Bulldogs by five at the first break, Bulldogs by one at half time and the scores level at the final break.

The Dogs got out to a two-goal lead in the opening five minutes of the last term courtesy of Marcus Bontempelli and Tory Dickson before goals to Levi Greenwood and Adam Oxley made the scores level. A Nathan Hrovat goal in the 15th minute was cancelled out by Collingwood's Brayden Maynard in the 22nd minute to tie the scores once again, before three behinds from the Bulldogs were the difference in the end and deserved a close finish as both sides were neck and neck for most of the night.

But it could have been a whole different story, as an errant deliberate free kick against Lin Jong on the wing in the final 30 seconds could've potentially cost the Doggies the game. I say errant because he knocked it towards a team mate on the outside of the wing that ended up missing him and trickled out of bounds. Dogs' coach Luke Beveridge said in the post-game press conference that it wasn't a free kick and had faith that the umpire didn't see Jong's intentions.



Leading The Way

After having a quiet first half, it was young Marcus Bontempelli that again stood up for the Dogs when they needed him the most in the second half. His influence was curbed in the first half by Levi Greenwood, only having nine possesions in the first half, but stormed home to record 26 disposals, eight marks, eight tackles, six inside 50s and two goals in another stellar effort. 

Fellow midfielder Luke Dahlhaus also shone in the absence of Jack Macrae, Tom Liberatore and Mitch Wallis, finishing the game with a team-high 31 disposals, eight inside 50s, five clearances and five tackles, Lachie Hunter was again prolific with 27 disposals, five inside 50s and a goal, Liam Picken was busy with 20 disposals, nine tackles, eight inside 50s and six marks and Jason Johannisen had another good game, finishing up with 22 disposals, seven marks, four rebound 50s and four tackles.

After being oft-criticised since touring the Collingwood facilities less than two months ago, Lin Jong fittingly had his best game against the Pies on Friday night, and bobbed up with two very important goals in the third quarter just when it looked like the Dogs were on the canvas. He finished the game with 18 disposals, five marks and five tackles in a game that would've caught the eyes of many Collingwood officials on Friday night. 


There were also quite a number of the younger Dogs who were impressive. Josh Dunkley, fresh off a NAB Rising Star nomination, had 18 disposals, 10 tackles, five marks and a goal – could've been three goals if he didn't miss those gettable set shots on goal. Caleb Daniel was again brilliant with 23 disposals and five clearances and did his chances of taking home the Rising Star award no harm, young defender Zaine Cordy continues to shine as a forward with two goals in the first half and I thought Tom Boyd didn't have his worst game, despite being held goal-less for the second straight week.

The Opposition

After an embarrassing defeat against Richmond, I half expected the Pies to bounce back against a finals-bound team in the Bulldogs, and unlike last Friday night, they didn't disappoint. They beat the Bulldogs in disposals 386-368 and the inside 50s and contested possession counts almost couldn't be seperated. The Dogs won the contested possession count 147-146, whilst Collingwood won the inside 50 count 51-50. The Pies also won out in the tackling recording 12 more tackles than the Bulldogs 88-76.

Adam Treloar was I thought Collingwood's best player on the night. The ex-Giants midfielder has had a fantastic first season in the black and white, and his performance on Friday night was no exception, finishing with a game-high 35 disposals, nine tackles, four inside 50s and one goal. I also thought James Aish's game on Friday night was perhaps the best of his short career so far, even when he was still at Brisbane, he had 28 disposals, seven inside 50s and five clearances, whilst the usual suspects in Collingwood's engine room were there, Steele Sidebottom (20 disposals, six tackles and two goals) and Scott Pendlebury (24 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s) were again in amongst the thick of it for most of the night.

I thought Darcy Moore was super impressive in what is only the second season for the young key forward. Doggies' fans might have had a few headaches after last year when he kicked five goals, and he nearly did it again on Friday night, kicking three goals, but missing another handful of easy shots on goal, also registering three behinds for the match. I wonder if he didn't smack his head into the signage in the second term,  could've he ended the night with five or six goals and have won this game off his own boot? Very hard to say now, but he'll be right amongst the best key forwards in five years time.

Other Collingwood players that impressed were ruckman Brodie Grundy, who finished with 13 disposals, 47 hitouts and eight tackles, Jeremy Howe who had 23 disposals and 11 marks from the Pies' defensive half, Jordan De Goey who had 19 disposals, seven marks and two goals, and whilst Rupert Wills who had 16 disposals and a staggering 12 tackles in what is only his third AFL game.

Next Week

Even though the Bulldogs take on two teams in the bottom three, the Dogs would want to win big to send a message to the rest of the finalists, but on the same page, would want to make sure that no more big injuries to big-name players happen until at least the finals series begins.

The Bulldogs are at Etihad Stadium for the last time in the home and away season, as they take on last-place Essendon in what is a home game for the Bombers. It's a game the Dogs should win and win comfortably, but the Bombers have surprised at times this season and have taken the fight to teams way above them, but if the Dogs are serious about finals, they'll need to score heavily and win heavily against a depleted Essendon outfit.

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