Round 2 – Western Bulldogs v West Coast: Dog day afternoon

 

From My Website: Bulldogs Centre

 

The Western Bulldogs’ miserly start to 2018 has continued, following a second thumping in as many weeks. This time going down to the West Coast Eagles by 51 points at Etihad Stadium on Easter Sunday. Driving home from the game, the first and only thing that was going through my head was ‘Let me at them!’

 

I say that because it was another dismal performance from Luke Beveridge’s men, this time against an outfit that on paper – looks nothing like a top-eight contending side, yet the Dogs allowed the Eagles to run rampant in another listless second quarter effort. Whether or not it was worse than the effort they gave against the Giants last week, I’ll leave that to the discretion of you, the loyal readers.

 

After suffering an embarrassing loss to the Greater Western Sydney Giants last week, supporters and footy followers either flocked to Etihad Stadium or tuned into the game on the television or radio to see how the 2016 Premiers would respond after a shocking performance. With West Coast coach Adam Simpson out of the game due to family reasons, the signs were promising pre-game.

 

Overall, the Sons of the West looked good with the ball for most of the term; Lachie Hunter kicked the first goal of the game and Marcus Bontempelli led the way early. Yet still there were holes in the defence which allowed the Eagles to get more shots on goal than the home team. After a Josh Dunkley goal midway through the quarter, the Eagles opened up the game and started getting control of the contest. However, the Dogs were only two points behind at the first break.

 

Much like last week however, that was as close as it got for the Bulldogs, who again found themselves caught out often by the Eagles and allowed them to do as they please, kicking another six unanswered goals to take a 39-point half-time lead. What really agitated me as I sat up in stands was that there was absolutely no urgency and no heart whenever the Eagles carried the ball up the ground.

 

There are plenty of examples I could use, but the one that stands out and the one that bothered me so much was the lack of defensive pressure that should’ve been directed towards mature-aged recruit Liam Ryan, who ran from the 50 towards the goal – nobody bothered to run after him. It exemplified how piss-poor this side was defensively for not just the term, but for most of the match; you could ask anyone about that particular play, I guarantee you they’d be cheesed off too.

 

They dominated the quarter and the fact is they aren’t a good enough side to contend in the eight so why in the hell is this side letting them get away with it all? The Eagles recorded nearly 40 more disposals and 20 more contested possessions. What does it say? It tells me that the Bulldogs don’t want the footy as badly as their opposition. They wandered around in that second term like headless chooks and the visiting West Coast Eagles made them pay dearly for it.

 

What adds more agitation is the fact that they still had 12 inside 50s for only three behinds. When you look at the opposition that this side faced, it’s an absolute disgrace that Western Bulldogs supporters turned up to watch a horrific brand of footy and a brand of footy that looked as if they were going nowhere. Not surprisingly, most of their inside 50s that term had been hoisted up high, allowing guys such as Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass to take intercept marks with such ease.

 

Whilst I will gladly admit that the second half got better, it was only marginally better because the Bulldogs managed to stop the margin blowing out beyond 10 goals as it happened last week in Canberra. There was a small sense of want back in the Dogs as they stepped out for the second-half, but once again, kicking precision became a huge let down. Not just around the ground, but in front of goal. It hasn’t been the first time it’s happened, and it won’t be the last.

 

The Western Bulldogs had 18 inside 50s in the third quarter, for which they brought in a pathetic total of 2.7. If it wasn’t for shots from just inside the 50 metre paint, they could’ve reeled the margin back in a fair bit. Josh Dunkley finally broke the drought in the 15th minute to give the Bulldogs a fourth goal for the match, but at this point, they were still 42 points down and they still couldn’t hit a barn from five metres out if they tried.

 

The Eagles showed all throughout the third term why I didn’t rate them so highly. They often fumbled the ball, they made big errors going forward, and that was because of the pressure that the Bulldogs had applied to them. They crumble under pressure as fast as any other side in the competition and they showed it in the third term with silly errors by hand and by foot, but they were still ahead by 39 points at three-quarter time, after being up by as much as 51 early in the quarter.

 

West Coast sealed it in the opening couple of minutes with back-to-back goals from Mark LeCras and Liam Ryan, giving them a 51-point advantage once more, before the Bulldogs secured back-to-back goals for the first time in the game, but it all came too little, too late. The Eagles enjoyed another six-goal quarter to run out huge winners and earning their first win of the 2018 season, leaving the Dogs win-less and bottom of the ladder with a very poor percentage after two rounds.

 

Heading into today’s game, I would’ve been okay if the Dogs’ went down by a few goals, but yet again they were horrific by foot and the effort was just about non-existent. How in the hell has this happened within 25 games? 24 games ago, this damn team won a premiership on the back of electric pressure and a will to get to every contest. Nowadays all they seem to do is trudge along and let the opposition do as they damn well please. It is beyond ridiculous.

 

Aside from Jack Macrae (31 disposals, six marks, six clearances, six inside 50s and three goals), Lachie Hunter (26 disposals, seven inside 50s and two goals) and Toby McLean (31 disposals, five tackles) who were all brilliant and the exception of young fellas in their first few games such as Aaron Naughton, Tim English, Billy Gowers and Ed Richards – who I thought showed plenty of promise in his first game – there were a lot of so-called premiership stars and veterans that need a rocket up their clackers, because they were abysmal.

 

Marcus Bontempelli looked a step slow for most of the game – there were quite a number of times he was caught holding the ball and after quarter time – didn’t do a great deal. Luke Dahlhaus (15 disposals) was quiet; I wasn’t even sure whether or not he was playing. Caleb Daniel (13 disposals) was unusually ordinary whenever he had the ball in his hand. Jason Johannisen had 23 disposals but he didn’t really have any major impact whatsoever. Free Agent Jackson Trengove (13 disposals) was hardly sighted and Jordan Roughead got dominated again before he went off with injury.

 

But you did get effort from Ed Richards, (11 disposals and six marks), you got some effort with Aaron Naughton (12 disposals and seven marks) and you got effort from Josh Dunkley (13 disposals, seven marks and two goals), Matthew Suckling (19 disposals, six marks and five inside 50s) and Billy Gowers despite his horrific kicking in front of goal (1.3 from 13 disposals and eight marks), whilst I thought Easton Wood was terrific in defence after half time, taking a handful of intercept marks – that is where he needs to play full stop.

 

What the Eagles managed to do so well – or the Dogs failed to see, whichever way you look at it – was the fact that they were able to have loose players hanging out the back of a contested situation and it translated into goals, which ultimately spelt the Bulldogs’ demise. Captain Shannon Hurn (29 disposals, 10 marks and seven rebound 50s) had a field day in defence, whilst Jeremy McGovern (14 disposals, eight marks and seven rebound 50s) and Tom Barrass (14 disposals and six marks) were also pivotal in defence.

 

The team of Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett dominated in the ruck. Lycett particularly stood out with two goals from 15 disposals, six tackles, five inside 50s, five marks and five clearances. The pair combined for 54 hitouts (Lycett 21, Naitanui 33) whilst Andrew Gaff (27 disposals, five clearances, five marks and a goal) and Elliot Yeo (20 disposals, seven marks and seven clearances) were the top midfielders for the Eagles.

 

Up forward, Jack Darling proved to be excellent in the absence of Josh Kennedy, kicking a bag of four goals from 11 marks and 16 disposals. Second-gamer Liam Ryan in his second game looked electric whenever he was near the ball, and could’ve taken a few spectacular grabs, finishing the day with 3.3 from 14 disposals and six marks, Daniel Venables – also in his second career game – kicked three goals from 12 disposals and seven marks in an impressive effort, whilst another second-gamer in Jake Waterman snagged a couple of goals.

 

It’s easy for people to say that this side is missing a lot of key players – Dale Morris, Liam Picken and Tom Liberatore are the names that come to mind, but Luke Beveridge and the media hyped up that old mantra of ‘one man out, another one comes in’ and it worked, we the fans, were fine with it. But something is amiss here at the Western Bulldogs and we have to figure out what it is. Where is the bite? Where is the roar? Where is everything that this side showed in 2016? Cause we haven’t seen any of it this year.

 

An 82-point loss last week and now a 51-point loss to a West Coast side that are above average at best. It was great to see the Western Bulldogs’ women’s team honoured after their premiership victory last week. As it stands right now, the women have showed more passion, more heart and more determination than the men right now and they have shown more of it by a country mile and then some in 2018.

 

Next week will see the Western Bulldogs back on the home deck that is Etihad Stadium to take on the ex-Bulldog Jake Stringer and the Essendon Bombers, who are coming off a disappointing game in their own right, losing to a Fremantle side tipped by many to struggle massively in 2018. Given the horrendous state of the side at the moment, it’s probably going to be another unlovely afternoon in the office.

 

All us supporters can do is hope the team can do better next week and serve it right up to them and hopefully extend the three-game winning run they have against the Bombers.

 

 

Western Bulldogs    3.3    3.6    5.13      9.16.70

West Coast Eagles   3.5    9.9    12.10   18.13.121

Goals

Western Bulldogs: Macrae 3, Dunkley 2, Hunter 2, Bontempelli, Gowers
West Coast Eagles: Darling 4, Ryan 3, Venables 3, Waterman 2, LeCras 2, Lycett 2, Gaff, Cripps

Alex Docherty’s Best

Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Hunter, McLean, Suckling, Dunkley, Wood
West Coast Eagles: Hurn, Darling, McGovern, Venables, Lycett, Gaff, Ryan

Umpires: Brown, Findlay, Ryan

Crowd: 22,868 at Etihad Stadium

 

For more of my readings – opinions or match previews/reviews – go onto www.adbulldogscentre.com

 

About Alex Docherty

Alex is a diehard footy nut. He loves his Western Bulldogs and loves writing about them every week as much he loves running out and playing footy himself.

Comments

  1. Peter_B says:

    I agree totally with everything you said Alex. My Eagles have had a crack both weeks. Dogs are phoning it in. There’s something rotten in the camp. Dahlhaus was an angry ant up to 2016, but looks disinterested now. The Bont has gone from a champion miler to a plodding steeplechaser. Tom Boyd and Mitch Wallis are in the magoos. What the?
    Lycett gave NicNait a big chop out on the Etihad concrete. My whipping boys Darling and LeCras have been outstanding both weeks. The kids in Ryan, Venables and Waterman seem to have added a bit of energy. Midfield legspeed is still an issue, but if our rucks stay fit it is an offsetting factor. I thought we would be bottom 6, but the coach seems to have let up on the structures and the players are enjoying themselves.
    Bevo first coach sacked for the season?

  2. Great write-up Alex. Beveridge seems to be saying we are in rebuilding mode. Unbelievable. I think we jumped the shark last year with a series of off field issues (viz. shuffling the coaching group, Stringer, premiership recruiters who didn’t get on….) and on-field loss of intensity compared with seasons 2015-2016.

  3. Daryl Younger says:

    Embarrassing for the players, coaches, management, but most of all the bulldog supporters.
    Get some courage every single one of you…..mistakes on choosing players is obvious and there’s no player on an AFL ground that can’t make a difference no matter who they are. Lift your heads up and realise many, many people spent a lot of their money to keep this club afloat, long before any of you current players were born……the club is bigger than any player on that list. Get some courage, show some flair, work hard for your team mates. I find it hard to swallow that a bulldog team is so soft inside. Honestly, netball is tougher than AFL now.
    Bunch of spoilt brat footballers running around like children, crying like babies. Maybe you should take up cricket or acting……or maybe soccer. Be a man….act like a man, and make sure you cry like babies privately, out of sight of the media. Steve Smith and David Warner are cry babies and embarrassed themselves and Australia with their behaviour. Fucking highly paid dummy suckers crying cause they lost their benefactors. Pathetic.

  4. bob.speechley says:

    It started from the opening bounce. Bulldogs had no answer to the Eagles in the ruck contests. Nic Nat served it up to his on-ballers whilst we offered little resistance. The Bont was closely tagged which hurt us around the ball.

    The catchcry “LOOSE MEN EVERYWHERE” sprang into my mind early on and stayed there throughout the game.

Leave a Comment

*