Round 11 – Western Bulldogs v Melbourne: Dee-Day

Western Bulldogs v Melbourne

1:45PM, Saturday June 2

Docklands Stadium

 

The Western Bulldogs will head into their bye with three straight losses to their name, as the Melbourne Football Club saluted co-captain Nathan Jones in his 250th game for the red and blue with a 49-point triumph at Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

 

 

I can understand why Bulldogs supporters reckoned they were an outside chance to knock off a Demons’ team that is on the back of three successive demolition jobs. In recent times, they’ve been susceptible to dropping games that they were favourites to win. Any notions of this were snuffed out well and truly after this weekend.

 

 

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin borrowed a line from the movie ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ in a press conference during the week to describe the hype surrounding his charges, believing that “It’s fugazi.” which means it’s just noise. Despite all of that, the Dogs started the game the better of the two sides. For the opening 10 minutes of the game, the Bulldogs pressure was fantastic, ball movement was first-rate and goals were kicked.

 

 

After just over eight minutes, the Bulldogs were ahead 18-1 after Marcus Bontempelli found some space in among the congestion inside 50 and snapped a beauty of a goal. But after that, Melbourne showed why they were able to demolish sides in recent weeks, they wrangled control of the contest, but were unable to get their first goal until the 22nd minute of the quarter through Tom McDonald who had started the game strongly.

 

 

From there, it all clicked into gear for the Demons, who then piled on six of the next seven goals of the contest. This included an inspirational captain’s goal from Jones late in the opening term, to get them back to within single digits before the first break. His career thus far has been a true testament to his loyalty to the club after all these years of Melbourne getting belted.

 

 

This burst of goals from the Demons came at a price though, with high-profile recruit Jake Lever twisting his left knee late in the opening term – later revealed to be another ACL tear. He tore the same ACL back in 2013 and missed all of 2014 before being drafted by Adelaide. It’s such a shame because after a poor start in 2018, Lever’s rediscovered his form in recent weeks and he’s a key part of their defensive structures – now gone for the rest of the year.

 

 

The Dogs weren’t out of the woods either, with Tory Dickson straining his hamstring for the second time this season. However, with Lever sitting out the rest of the match, the Dogs still struggled to kick a winning score. They could only manage one major for the rest of the term, whilst Melbourne dominated on the scoreboard. The sticky hands of Tom McDonald and the forward prowess of Jesse Hogan dominated the Bulldog defence, kicking four of Melbourne’s five goals of the term and giving them a 16-point lead at half-time.

 

 

The margin didn’t look like much, but from how Melbourne began moving the ball after such a sluggish start, and how there was a lack of response from the Bulldogs, things looked as if they was about to get messy in the third quarter. Someone didn’t tell Marcus Bontempelli that, as he produced a goal in the opening 30 seconds to cut the margin back to 10 points. Unfortunately, this would be as close as it got.

 

 

Melbourne just continued to use the ball so well, it was bordering on champagne football. Jake Melksham – twice – managed to nail a kick from the half-back flank to a player in the middle of the ground and it resulted in Melbourne goals. Kicks like that are often hard to execute because of the number of players between where the kick starts and where it lands, but that was made to look to easy.

 

 

On the other hand, the Western Bulldogs – unsurprising to many I’m sure – made more of a meal of their opportunities going forward. More often than not, they just bombed the ball high and long inside 50, which has been proven time and time again to favour the defence more than it does to even the tallest of forwards. However, they must persist with Josh Schache. After a neat set-shot in the opening term, he had a further two shots in the third term and both were on the mark, only one fell a metre short, it ended with a Bulldog goal anyway and the other hit the post.

 

 

The result was put beyond doubt less than three minutes into the final quarter with Jesse Hogan slotting home his fourth major with a nonchalant kick from deep in the pocket. From that moment, everything fizzled out as Melbourne comfortably ran away from the Bulldogs with a 49-point win. This marks the first time since 2005 that the Demons have secured back-to-back wins over the Bulldogs and the first time since 2006 that they have won six games in a row. Ironically, 2006 was the last time they made finals.

 

 

I found it very intriguing to read that Chris Grant – who has been a legend of the Bulldogs and currently the football director at the club – went on record in the Herald Sun saying he saw this slide coming due to the number of young and inexperienced kids in the team. He may have a point as the usual suspects were again amongst the best players.

 

 

Marcus Bontempelli (Two goals, 24 disposals, five clearances and four marks) bounced back from a shocker last week, whilst Jack Macrae (31 disposals, five clearances, five tackles and five rebound 50s) and Lachie Hunter (32 disposals, four clearances, four marks and four rebound 50s) also worked tirelessly in a midfield that although got trounced by 49 points, won the clearances pretty comfortably (47-28). To register that amount of clearances in a game, yet only kick seven goals from 51 inside 50 entries, speaks volumes about how poor this team is whenever they go forward.

 

 

Matthew Suckling (26 disposals, five inside 50s, four rebound 50s and a goal) also had a very good game and is quietly piling up some pretty good games. In a team that is bereft of experience, he’s one that has stood up in 2018. Bailey Williams (23 disposals, six inside 50s, four marks, four clearances and four tackles) has been among the club’s biggest improvers so far this year, and again had a solid game, whilst I thought Jason Johannisen (24 disposals, five clearances and four marks), was more involved than many people want to give him credit for. It was also great to see Dale Morris back playing footy and worked his rear off in thwarting any forward opportunity the Dees had.

 

 

Yet, there was simply no answers and no stopping either Jesse Hogan or Tom McDonald up forward. Whilst the Bulldogs struggled with their inside 50 entries, these two wreaked havoc up forward, combining for nine goals – which ultimately made up the difference of this contest. McDonald kicked four goals from 24 touches and 11 marks (six contested) and Hogan – easily in All-Australian form – nailed five goals from 10 marks (five of those inside 50) and 19 disposals.

 

 

Max Gawn, as many expected pre-game, dominated not only in the ruck, but around the ground, recording 57 hitouts along with 19 disposals, seven marks and five tackles. Whilst Clayton Oliver (Career-high 38 disposals along with six clearances, six inside 50s and five marks) and Angus Brayshaw (Career-high 39 disposals along with nine inside 50s, eight marks and a goal) had field days in the midfield.

 

 

The one thing that impressed me the most about Melbourne is how they responded in defence without Jake Lever. Neville Jetta (24 disposals, nine marks and five rebound 50s) has been overlooked and underrated for so long, but this was a game that he really stood out like a sore thumb – perhaps the best defensive game I’ve seen him play. Bayley Fritsch, while initially drafted as a forward, looked really good in defence, recording 26 disposals, 14 marks and seven rebound 50s, as well as managing a goal. He would have to be among the best finds this year.

 

 

Whilst Melbourne will go into a blockbuster game against Collingwood on Queen’s Birthday, the Western Bulldogs will have the week off next week before they reload to take on Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval. Whilst technically the Dogs are still a chance to play finals, the reality is that this side is too young and not good enough to match the top sides and Saturday proved that there is a lot of ground to make up after a 2016 season that feels like a lifetime ago.

 

 

WESTERN BULLDOGS    3.3    4.6    6.8    7.9.51
MELBOURNE                     2.1    7.4   11.7    15.10.100

 

 

Goals

Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli 2, Honeychurch, Schache, Gowers, Roughead, Suckling
Melbourne: Hogan 5, T. McDonald 4, Jones, Neal-Bullen, Petracca, Fritsch, Hannan, Brayshaw

 

 

Alex Docherty’s Best

Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Suckling, Hunter, Macrae, Williams, Johannisen
Melbourne: T. McDonald, Hogan, Gawn, Oliver, Brayshaw, Fritsch, Jetta

 

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. george smith says:

    Look, the Bulldogs have never dominated the comp the way that Hawthorn did in 1988 and the Showies did in 1995. Instead they have had to follow the path of Adelaide 1997 and Collingwood 1990.
    There is nothing wrong with that. These teams, like Bossy Maggie, have said “enough is enough”, and dominated one finals series. But this takes an enormous amount of energy, and the let down is severe.
    The dynasty is not happening, but does not mean we can’t celebrate the achievement.
    Time to start again.

  2. Rulebook says:

    Alex enjoyable read will be interesting to see how big loss Lever but the dees have been v impressive of late incredible fall from favour for the dogs thought they would have a sustained spell of success from 2016 would have thought the youth would progress also remembering that the dogs ressies side had been around the mark

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