What a story for the Western Bulldogs. Nobody gave them a chance at the start of the Finals Series, finishing 7th on the ladder after an appalling showing in the final round of the home and away season, but week by week this team showed something incredibly special, and on Saturday, they completed that fairytale that most of the nation had been hoping for.
Today, Bulldogs Centre continues the trend of rating the players' Grand Final performances, as we go through both sets of players with a little bit of depth and a rating out of 10.
4: Marcus Bontempelli – Rating: 8/10
He didn't get as much of the ball as some of his team mates, but the beauty of 'The Bont' is that he doesn't have to have a big-possession game to make a big impact in games. He used most of his 22 possessions wisely and efficiently, going at scintillating 91% efficiency. Wasn't afraid to go third-man up in the ruck contests or do the dirty work, recording nine hitouts and seven tackles.
5: Matthew Boyd – Rating: 8/10
Another stellar performance from the 2015 All-Australian, a close call that nearly gifted Gary Rohan a goal the only major blemish for the day. 27 disposals, seven rebound 50s and five marks from a player that used to dominate the midfield for the very same club. What are you waiting for Western Bulldogs? Sign him up for 2017!
6: Luke Dahlhaus – Rating: 7/10
Solid game from another rookie-listed success story. Starred in the first half and finished with 23 disposals for the game. Another that wasn't afraid of the tough side of footy, laying eight tackles. Funny how this man used to be known for his dreadlocks when he first walked into the Whitten Oval.
7: Lachie Hunter – Rating: 5/10
Not one of his best games this year, but was still handy as an outside player, recording 19 disposals and two goal assists. Hard to believe that 18 months ago, this young man could not get a look into this team, but now here he is a premiership player.
9: Jake Stringer – Rating: 3/10
We were either going to get 'The Package' or 'The Passenger', and was heading for the latter untl a he popped up with a dynamite goal in the last quarter to lift the Dogs on their feet. He'll be welcoming Stewart Crameri back next year in open arms, he badly missed him this season.
10: Easton Wood (Acting Captain) – Rating: 8/10
His stats might not tell the entire story (13 disposals, seven marks), but anytime he got near a contest, he was influential. The contest against Hannebery early in the fourth quarter that saw the Sydney midfielder go off with that knee injury was telling and certainly a turning point in that term. Can you believe it? Easton Wood is a premiership captain.
11: Jack Macrae – Rating: 8/10
Had a typically hard-working game, finishing with an equal team-high 33 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and four clearances. A horrible miss from close range was the only negative on his day, but let's not put that against him. He did kick the goal that got them to this position after all.
12: Zaine Cordy – Rating: 4/10
Kicked a sensational goal from the boundary to get the Bulldogs' first goal of the Grand Final after having stuffed up a golden opportunity to get it just minutes earlier. Didn't have to get a stack of the ball, he just had to keep providing contests down forward and that's what he did. Definitely shaping as the better Cordy brother at the moment.
14: Clay Smith – Rating: 5.5/10
After starring in the preliminary final a week earlier, Smith was well held this time around, with only 13 disposals, but his tackling was gold-standard, recording 11 tackles and also kicked a crucial goal in the third term. Arguably one of the best stories in this team – coming back from three knee reconstructions to play a big part in the Bulldogs' finals' run.
16: Toby McLean – Rating: 5/10
Another solid performer who battled to the final siren, finishing the day with 18 disposals, including the last kick of the game. Kicked a very crucial goal in the second quarter to bring the margin back to less than a kick before the half-time siren, but gave away a very stupid 50 metre penalty in the third quarter that gifted Josh Kennedy his third goal of the day.
17: Tom Boyd – Rating: 9/10
All of a sudden, that trade and the massive contract doesn't sound so bad ey? Came up big in the game that mattered the most. Three goals, and was almost marking everything in sight, taking six contested marks on the day. Staked a huge claim for the Norm Smith medal by the end of it all. If only he hadn't missed that shot in the last quarter...
18: Fletcher Roberts – Rating: 6.5/10
He only racked up five possessions, but defensively, he was outstanding on a bloke that Sydney spent big dollars on to kick goals. No it wasn't Buddy. Roberts held Kurt Tippett goal-less and justified the decision to keep him in the side rather than a premiership player in Matt Suckling.
20: Josh Dunkley – Rating: 5/10
Wasn't a star of the game, but didn't stop trying all game long, recording 15 disposals and displayed his physicality with seven tackles. For a first-year player, this is a dream start to his career, 17 games and a premiership. Sydney knocked him back in last year's draft, I wonder what they're thinking now?
21: Tom Liberatore – Rating: 7/10
It was hard to believe that an ankle injury in round 19 nearly ended his season. Thank heavens for that bye! Another one that played superb inside footy, recording 22 disposals, eight clearances and eight tackles and played a hand in negating part of Sydney's midfield machine. Father Tony would be proud as punch for his boy.
23: Jordan Roughead – Rating: 6.5/10
Managed to overcome that eye injury he sustained in last week's game, but had his hands full in the ruck with counterparts Naismith and Tippett from the get-go, but his contested marking came up in crucial moments of the game. You wouldn't believe he was the team's full back two years ago.
24: Shane Biggs – Rating: 6/10
Statistically didn't play a huge factor in the win, only recording the 15 disposals and four marks, but his pressure acts to set up Liam Picken's second goal of the game was enormous in the context of the game.
29: Tory Dickson – Rating: 7.5/10
It was only a fortnight ago that Dickson had an absolute shocker against the Hawks in front of the Friday night lights, but on Grand Final day he did what he had to do and that was kick goals. Three goals in the first three quarters were huge. That goal from long-range in the first quarter would dictate how his day would go.
30: Joel Hamling – Rating: 8.5/10
Like his mate Fletcher Roberts, Hamling doesn't get a lot of the ball, but defensively magnificent on arguably the game's best forward in Lance Franklin. Even if 'Buddy' had a bad ankle, keeping him to one goal on the biggest stage of them all speaks volumes for how far this young man has come since he got picked up as a discarded Cat.
35: Caleb Daniel – Rating: 4/10
Probably one of his worst games this season, which is a shame because he's been excellent at times this year. Worked his way into the game after half-time and saved himself from having a right stinker, finishing the day with 14 disposals and five tackles.
38: Dale Morris – Rating: 9/10
He was defensively outstanding as he has been for much of his career. Played on both big and small opponents at various stages of the game and continues to display courage and hardness at the contest. Oh, did we forget to mention he was playing for the entire Finals Series with a broken freakin' back yet??? A defensive beast!
39: Jason Johannisen – Rating: 8.5/10
The Norm Smith medallist did a lot of nice things all throughout the game. Took intercept marks, provided run and carry from half-back and should've had the goal that gave the Doggies the premiership, but the one thing that stood out for me was how horrible his kicking was at times, but no doubt one of the Dogs best on the ground. Finished with an equal team-high 33 disposals.
42: Liam Picken – Rating: 9/10
Arguably the best Bulldog throughout their finals campaign. Picken's last quarter was massive, kicking two of his three goals to essentially drag the team over the line. 'Billy's Boy' finished fourth in the Norm Smith medal votes, such was his impact on this game. He recorded 25 disposals and took the mark of the Grand Final also in the last quarter. Coach Luke Beveridge took the leash off of the old tagger and has never looked back.
3: Jarrad McVeigh (Co-Captain) – Rating: 4/10
Coming back in from a calf injury, McVeigh struggled to influence the game offensively, recording only 14 disposals and three tackles, but was the man responsible of curbing Caleb Daniel's influence on the game
4: Dan Hannebery – Rating: 5/10
Like plenty of his Sydney team mates in the first half, ran hot with 17 disposals up until then, but only collected another five after the long break and despite injuring his knee early in the last term, tried to run out the game in a testament to his toughness, but just couldn't do it on one leg.
5: Isaac Heeney – Rating: 7/10
Heeney has come of age during this Finals Series and it showed on Saturday, he had 22 disposals, six marks, five inside 50s and four tackles in another stellar effort. Wasn't afraid to put his body in harm's way either.
6: Tom Mitchell – Rating: 8/10
Ran hot in the second quarter, kicking two goals and finished the afternoon with 26 disposals and 13 tackles in an effort he can be proud of, although this could've been his last game in red and white, with Mitchell tipped to sign a lucrative deal with Hawthorn for 2017.
8: Kurt Tippett – Rating: 3/10
This is a man that Sydney recruited with big money to take marks and kick goals. On Saturday he only took two contested marks and only managed a behind. Got most of his stats playing as a ruckman, and even then failed to really impact.
10: Zak Jones – Rating: 6/10
Looked at home in his first Grand Final. Finished with 21 disposals and four marks in a solid effort, definitely not the worst Swan on the ground
11: Jeremy Laidler – Rating: 5/10
Didn't get a lot of the ball, recording only the nine disposals, but a very solid defensive game with six tackles and seven one-percenters. Gave away a unnecessary 50 metre penalty in the third quarter that should've resulted in a goal, and should thank his lucky stars that it didn't.
12: Josh Kennedy – Rating: 9/10
If the Swans won the premiership, no doubt Kennedy would've won the Norm Smith medal. Ran through the opposition midfielders en route to 34 disposals and three goals. Sparked Sydney's revival in the second quarter, just when the Dogs looked like they were running away with it.
14: Callum Mills – Rating: 4/10
This year's Rising Star winner came back into the team from a hamstring injury and failed to make any real impact on the game. A nice one-handed mark in the first quarter was later overshadowed by a failed attempt to run around Zaine Cordy which gave the Dogs their first goal of the match.
15: Kieran Jack (Co-Captain) – Rating: 6/10
Set the tone of the game early with a courageous mark going back with the flight against Easton Wood. Missed two gettable shots on goal in the first half, but otherwise had a solid game, collecting 22 disposals, five marks and four clearances.
16: Gary Rohan – Rating: 2/10
Rohan had a shocker in the 2014 Grand Final, and unfortunately for him, backed it up with an equally horrific game here. Wouldn't have kicked that goal if the Bulldogs players heard the umpire call play-on.
21: Ben McGlynn – Rating: 3/10
Another Swan that stunk up the MCG, only recording the nine disposals, and a squandered opportunity to keep the Swans in the contest in the last quarter. Still searching for his first premiership medallion.
23: Lance Franklin – Rating: 5/10
Rolled his ankle in a marking contest early on in the game, but stuck it out to the end with 16 disposals, eight marks and seven tackles, but was well-beaten by Hamling, who restricted him to just the one major when the Swans needed more.
24: Dane Rampe – Rating: 8.5/10
Justified his spot in the All-Australian team with a fine defensive performance. He had 24 disposals, 11 marks, nine rebound 50s and nine one-percenters. Only blemish of his day was allowing himself to get mowed down by Picken in the last quarter.
26: Luke Parker – Rating: 5/10
Kicked the first goal of the game and threatened to be a match-winner like the last time these two met. Fortunately for Dogs fans he struggled for impact after quarter time, only putting up 19 disposals and nine tackles in a performance he would rather forget.
29: George Hewett – Rating: 3/10
Didn't really know he was playing until he bobbed up in the last quarter with a very important goal to keep the Swans in it. Only had the 11 disposals and four tackles for the match.
35: Sam Naismith – Rating: 6/10
Didn't let the big stage get to his head too greatly, and could've been one of the few Swans who could hold his head high at the end of the day. Finished with the most hitouts of any ruckman in the Grand Final.
39: Heath Grundy – Rating: 8.5/10
An outstanding game from the veteran defender, taking nine marks to go along with his 21 disposals and six rebound 50s. Without him or Rampe, the Swans probably would've copped another Grand Final embarrassment.
40: Nick Smith – Rating: 6/10
Didn't do much wrong in defence despite only posting 13 disposals for the match, but he did come up with a very timely goal in the second quarter – the first one he's kicked since the 2013 season.
41: Tom Papley – Rating: 4/10
The first-year sensation failed to score a goal in his first grand final, but did try to get one, having 15 disposals and five tackles. Day didn't get any better when he cost Franklin and the Swans a goal in the third term.
42: Xavier Richards – Rating: 2/10
Despite 13 goals in nine games leading up to Saturday, Richards failed to make any impact whatsoever, and only managed just 10 disposals for the day, most of them meaningless possessions.
44: Jake Lloyd – Rating: 6/10
Found a fair amount of the ball in the back-half, recording 21 disposals, five marks and five rebound 50s. Got handed the task of checking Clay Smith and only restricted him to just one goal. Overall, a good game.
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