Round 1 – Western Bulldogs v West Coast Eagles: Who needs matchday entertainment when the game provides it?

What is it about Easter and the Bulldogs meeting interstate clubs? For the third time in 4 seasons we have played our match at the time commemorating the resurrection of Christ against a team based outside of Australian Football’s true stronghold. For the second consecutive year we have opened our season against the “other” team of the mighty west, whose headlines have revolved for most of the off season around a past hero who is struggling with life outside of football.

For all of the press generated over match day experiences, to be honest it was a bit of a fizzer. I couldn’t give a toss about the LED boundary signage which I wouldn’t be investing on if I was a business (preference to have a permanent sign as opposed to one that changes often). The so called pre-match entertainment was for the club to quadruple the number of suited up mascot bulldogs to dance for some kids repeated for some reason in the stands at the half time interval. The only highlight was the Bulldog banner, which took aim at the expensive coffee in Perth. I can’t talk from experience given I’m not a massive coffee drinker so perhaps the Bulldog cheer squad would need to ask Serena Williams about how expensive it is (if you don’t see the link, in this year’s Hopman Cup in Perth Williams was getting belted in a match before asking the chair umpire if she was allowed to order a coffee, which was delivered by a ball kid minutes later).

All night the crowd of just over 22000 (which appeared to be lower than what I thought I saw) were more enthralled by the on field product. The umpiring, as frustrating as it was to most supporters at most times (twice Justin Schmitt was overruled by a colleague in another zone, both times he missed obvious incidents that others clearly saw) appeared to want to let a lot of incidental contact, particularly in marking contests, go without intervention. Should these interpretations continue then I’m sure the game will improve in quality as a whole.

Sadly for the Eagles Mitch Brown became another long term casualty when his knee collapsed in the first 10 minutes of the game. Like many knee injuries there was no major buckling of the leg, minimal contact from an opponent and sadly the worst possible result. West Coast won’t use his injury as an excuse, given the Bulldog key forwards couldn’t exert a massive influence on the contest, but long term the prognosis for the Eagles can’t be positive, losing what they hoped would be their key defensive posts before a quarter of the opening premiership season game had been completed.

All night it was a tough, tight contest with the result of the game on the political knife edge until the siren forced the visitors to concede defeat. Despite the ease of how the bulk of majors came about (Eagles kicked 8 goals from transition football, 4 from kick ins and 4 after turnovers, Bulldogs managed 5 of their goals from free kicks) most of the action was fast paced yet without compromise. The home side carried on the tackling pressure that was evident from the concluding match of their trio of NAB Challenge appearances which certainly kept the fans involved. Some on twitter were moved to say they hadn’t heard a crowd that involved in the first quarter for some time. Personally, this was about as loud as I’ve heard a predominant Bulldog crowd – louder crowds have been where, despite being the home side, our support has been matched or outnumbered by fans from another Victorian based club. Yes there was some noise from the couple of hundred that made the journey east, but predictably they couldn’t match our levels.

In terms of improvement the Dogs can identify 3 areas to work on over the upcoming schedule. The key forwards couldn’t find a way to take marks in dangerous positions, a couple of poor drops from Redpath saw him get a red vest upon the start of the last quarter while Tom Boyd battled, although a couple of his contests led to crumbed goals. Secondly set shots in pressure situations went to water. A clearly underdone, peptide free Crameri missed his only real chance to score in the 3rd term and Stringer butchered several chances to not only come away with a big haul (he finished with 3.3 and 2 OOF’s, should have been 5.2 or 6.2) but also sneak into the votes. Of course the transition defence is the other, many of their coast to coast goals an untimely reminder of a game in Sydney in 2012 where the Swans burned us time and again on their home deck.

There really wasn’t a bad player on the ground so trying to pick out the best players was a hard task. Cripps was clearly the Eagles best, finishing his opportunities with precision and proving a thorn in the Dogs side most of the night. For the home team the 2 leading possession gatherers didn’t get into my best, Matt Boyd may have accumulated his usual 30 in his new role off half back but as usual turned it over plenty of times. Jack Macrae was 2nd in the possession stakes, but he often took poor options particularly when it came to looking for the right handball to give at the right time. Others had a bigger influence on the game particularly when the game needed to be won.

When the win was finally confirmed it would be unkind to suggest the fans reacted as though they had won a final, but certainly a few were able to release the nervous tensions in song. The bigger test will come next week, when even fewer will expect to get anything out of a game against Richmond, a side whom we managed to beat in a similar phase of the 2014 season. As for the Eagles, it’s probably not a matter of whom they’re playing next that will cause the big headache (Carlton always get special attention anyway thanks to their coach and their number 5), but how they will improvise in their defensive stocks throughout the year.

 

MATCH DETAILS

WESTERN BULLDOGS 14.13.97
WEST COAST 14.3.87

SCORERS
DOGS: Stringer 3.3, Dickson 2.0, Johannisen 2.0, T.Boyd 1.1, Dahlhaus 1.1, Bontempelli 1.0, Honeychurch 1.0, Picken 1.0, Redpath 1.0, Wood 1.0, Crameri 0.2, Grant 0.1, Minson 0.1, RUSHED 0.4
WC: Cripps 5.0, Kennedy 2.2, Shuey 2.0, Gaff 1.0, Lamb 1.0, LeCras 1.0, Lycett 1.0, Naitanui 1.0, Rosa 0.1

BEST
DOGS: Wallis, Johannisen, Minson, Dahlhaus, Stringer, Roughead, Bontempelli
WC: Cripps, McGovern, Masten, Hurn, Sheppard

VOTES
3: Jamie CRIPPS (WC)
2: Mitch WALLIS (DOGS)
1: Jason JOHNNISEN (DOGS)

VOLDEMORTS (Thank You Des Hasler!)
FIELD: Heath RYAN, Justin “Always too many letters in the surname) SCHMITT, Scott JEFFERY (EM: Andrew TALBOT)
BOUNDARY: Damien CUSACK, Tim MORRISON, Josh MATHER, Dillon TEE
GOAL: Michael PALM, Daniel WILSON

About Mick Jeffrey

32 Year Old, Bulldogs Member and tragic. Reserve Grade coach after over 225 combined senior/reserves appearances for Brothers AFC in AFL Capricornia. 11 time Marathon finisher, one time Ultra Marathon finisher and Comrades Marathon competitor 2017.

Comments

  1. Same applies to Melbourne vs Gold Coast: if only 15 other sides (The Suns were a joke) could bring that kind of attacking intensity to their games instead of the uber defensive shite we’ve been served up for too long.

    Both sides played amazing, free-flowing footy. Long may it continue! Credit to both clubs.

  2. Bob Speechley says

    Good reportage Mick but your profile needs buffering with red,white & blue facepaint! I went to Etihad as a Bulldogs supporter for the first time in over 30 years having ditched the Red & Black Barons because of their outrageous abuse of their young chargers. I renewed my first love for the Bulldogs – I was there with Neil Anderson in ’54 – and was amply rewarded last night by a conscientious display by a committed and enthusiastic team. Not a weak link IMHO! I was impressed with Jong and Talia among others and Big Will never says “DIE”. Looking forward to 2015 and beyond for more “down to earth” Footy. Go Doggies!

  3. Thanks Mick, it was an entertaining game.

    ALL ALMANACKERS please note Mick’s perfect allocation of Malarkey Medal votes.

    Now is the time to attend to this blight on the organisation.

    The point is that your best players and votes should align.

    For more information see the following…

    https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/about-votes-and-best-players/

  4. Neil Anderson says

    Great night for the Dogs Mick, Bob and Steve.
    It must be Easter. I’m surrounded by my family of non-believers and free-loaders from the city as I try to time sitting down to watch the match just on tea-time while still being polite and listening to conversations about everything but football. Such a fine line to tread for the first Bulldog”s match.” I just re-read the article and link above called ”Frankenstein’s Monster’ about the Dog’s match against Gold Coast which was very dismal. At least we can see big improvements from two years ago.

  5. Very fair and insightful summary Mick. When I did my tipping on Thursday and the Eagles were $1.60 and the Dogs $2.50, I thought the market was the wrong way round. Entertaining hard running contest between 2 well-coached teams with modest skills. Both trying to play the Hawks rebound off half back style, but without the marking targets or kicking skills. With 10 minutes to go Rosa picked out the one Bulldog in a pack of Eagles streaming forward through the centre. Honest trier – but.
    Still it’s a lot better than Woosha’s bash crash and boot it long. The absence of Darling means Kennedy has to do too much work down the ground, and LeCras flies for too many pack marks when he should be crumbing. Priddis had a rare off night. Scott Selwood did a job on Bontompelli, but MB showed his class in the second half.
    NicNat played his best game for a couple of years, but Minson monstered Lycett and a lot of the Dogs clearance dominance and scoring patches coincided with Nic’s absence.
    I thought McGovern was BOG, and he must be worth $2OM if Boyd is worth $7M.
    The Dogs could have won by 5 goals if they had a functioning forward line. Stringer was the only one worth feeding, but his set shot kicking was woeful.
    Both teams will give an honest effort this season, but are several shingles short of a finals roof.

  6. Bulldogs should have won by a lot more, but five goals from free kicks is a pretty rich though. Hope the Doggies don’t hang too much on the win or the Eagles too much on the loss.The Eagles end- to – end goals made me take notice and I can’t complain about 14:3.Who knows how well Carlton will play this week.It could be an awful game with the AFL’s best coach in control of an awful side
    Being an Eagles defender isn’t a career move at the moment but McGovern handles it well

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