After a summer celebrating the Dogs’ magnificent Grand Final victory, watching replays of the game multiple times (and the other finals as well), I was ready for 2017. Because of all the excitement, the trade period, the draft, the pre-season and the Women’s comp, footy hardly seemed to leave us. Unlike previous years when I couldn’t wait, it almost seemed to come too soon. ‘Can’t I celebrate a bit longer?’ I asked Zuka the flying wonder dog. ‘Do we now have to face reality and defend this title?’ ‘F’raid so.’ he woofed. ‘Grab your scarf and let’s watch the telly’.
Well, it wasn’t as easy as that. I had been double-booked for ages and wondered how I was going to wrangle it. In the end, I opted to record the game, turn off every device known to man and enjoy Kate Miller-Heike singing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House. I’m glad I went as I really enjoyed the concert and some of her more moody pieces had me reminiscing and flying over a winter-dark Western Oval. When I arrived home, because of the hour I was given the OK to commandeer the lounge room and wasn’t sent to the back room dog house which is the norm. And talkin’ of dogs, Zuka came in, plonked himself at my feet and away we went. ’Finally’ he growled.
I was confident the Dogs would do well and had tipped them, but only the last quarter of the JLT series had given me that confidence. However, I also knew it was the first round; Buckley and the Pies had something to prove and we were now the hunted.
Boyd got the first knock down, Murphy received a great roar of approval from the 66,00 plus crowd with his first touch, JJ and Suckling were playing well and despite a behind to Blair, Hunter kicked the first goal after a pass from Cloke (great to see him in action early). Crameri passed to Hunter and he scored another goal. A big woof came from Zuka. Zuka let out a big howl when Varcoe deliberately knocked down Dahlhaus off the ball. ‘He’ll get three weeks’ he growled. From then on he growled every time (and it wasn’t often) Varcoe touched the ball. After a scramble, Stinger snapped a goal. After his up and down year last year it was good to see him working really hard. Finally, Sidebottom scored one for the Pies and after a great mark by Varcoe (big growl) to get the ball to Fosolo, he let the team down by scoring only a point. At quarter time we were 20 points up and looking good. Hunter, Dahlausand and Johannisen were getting plenty of the ball for the Dogs and Sidebottom, Adams and Treloar for the Pies. However, the highlight was Cloke popping through a 60 metre goal against his old side. The look on Joffa’s face was priceless.
In the second quarter Collingwood came right back. Fosolo was on fire, Jessie White chipped in with one and Mayne goaled after a poor kick-out by Fletcher Roberts. I hadn’t seen much of the Bont but as I was thinking that he chimed in for a brilliant goal, just when it was needed. Zuka excitedly jumped in to my lap. At half time we were only 4 points in front.
The third quarter saw a repeat of the first. Treloar goaled to put the Pies in front by a point but then it was all Dogs. They steadied the ship to go 31 points ahead at one stage. However, not to be denied, the Pies came back in the last quarter. Pendlebury was playing a wonderful game but the Bont kicked another – again just when it was needed. Stringer had a couple of chances to really put the Pies away but only managed points. In the end, the Dogs won by 14 points.
Collingwood clearly won in the ruck and in clearances but their defensive pressure faltered at times allowing the Dogs to get out the back. With less preparation, the Dogs were a bit rusty, but they got the job done and took the four points and the Robert Rose Trophy. It wasn’t a pretty win but nevertheless still exciting. At two in the morning we couldn’t make much noise so our excitement was more a nod, a wink, the odd growl and a silent singalong to Sons of the West.
‘Next week against the Swans will be tougher’ said Zuka as he disappeared to his bed out in the garage. ‘Yep. Hopefully we will be able to watch it live this time, mate. Night.’ ‘Woof’.
Collingwood 1.5 7.9 9.11 12.14 (86)
Western Bulldogs 5.1 9.1 14.6 15.10 (100)
Collingwood: Fasolo 3, Sidebottom 2, Pendlebury 2, White, Mayne, Treloar, Goldsack, Hoskin-Elliott
Western Bulldogs: Hunter 3, Johannisen 2, Bontempelli 2, Picken 2, M.Boyd, Stringer, Cloke, Liberatore, Crameri, McLean
Collingwood: Pendlebury, Treloar, Sidebottom, Adams, Fasolo, Reid
Western Bulldogs: Dahlhaus, Boyd, Hunter Liberatore, Bontempelli, Johannisen, Murphy,
Umpires: Deboy, Kamolins, Schmitt Crowd: 66,254
Our Votes: Pendlebury (Pies) 3, Dalhouse (Dogs) 2, Boyd (Dogs 1.