AFL Round 10 – Western Bulldogs v Port Adelaide: The heat is on

Western Bulldogs versus  Port Adelaide

7.10pm, Saturday, June 1

TIO Stadium – Mararra


Tavis Perry


I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the side that was to lose this match; for Port a loss would severely hamper their slim aspirations of playing finals and completely unravel their impressive 5-0 start and for the Doggies a loss would put even more heat on their embattled coach and mean condemnation to the bottom 4. In a season where discussion around Mark Neeld’s tenure has drawn considerable interest, I feel it’s McCartney who has flown under the radar in recent months. Coming into this match the Bulldogs had won 1 game from their last 20 starts and doesn’t seem to have replacements for aging stars Giansiracusa, Murphy, Boyd, Cross, Cooney, etc. There doesn’t seem to be a succession plan in place and at the very least in Mark Neeld’s favour is that most of the Demons’ better players (Dawes, Clark, Jones, Jamar, Frawley) are already signed until the end of 2014 and they have good young players coming through such as Toumpas, Viney and the super impressive Hogan. I must’ve tried my best to convince myself I was onto something and continually raised this argument throughout the course of the match, though was having trouble trying to raise support for my theory. Such is commonplace for a supporter of a bottom club.

Though my insistence that the Demons are on the right track fell on deaf ears, most water cooler banter leading into this week’s Port v Dogs game was more along the lines of ‘at least it will be a close game; neither side has a forward line capable of kicking many goals.’ Indeed, selecting Jay Schulz in my supercoach side has proven about as fruitful as Melbourne’s selection of Shannon Byrnes in the big stuff, and scores in the low 30’s is not uncommon. This is even against my sound reasoning that he’d have a ‘big’ year given they have some good ball users through the middle. In hindsight I’ll have to re-evaluate my definition of ‘good ball users’ as in absolute perfect conditions some of the Power’s midfield lived up to one of their ally’s names and continued to butcher the ball.

Even though the first half was close (and the scoreline was low), there weren’t many highlights to speak of, and the almost 8,000-strong crowd was relatively subdued throughout this period. I left my perch at the top level of the stadium at half-time to catch up with some work colleagues who were sitting amongst the Doggies’ cheer squad on the boundary line. We were all a bit worried that the game was going to peter out and continue to be a relatively boring contest. Griffen and Wingard drew the highest levels of praise for their work in the first half; Griffen seemed to be a chance to break the magical 40 possessions barrier and Wingard’s clean hands, pace and ball use also caught most people’s attention. While we were engaged in some light-hearted banter the aforementioned Bulldogs coach, McCartney, who I’d been insisting all night was under the pump, came up with a plan at half-time that was to completely change the context of the match and swing it considerably in the Dogs’ favour. It seemed simple enough; have all the forwards play up the ground so that the forward 50 was vacant, win the ball through the middle and then kick over the Power defence. This would lead to a foot race, which McCartney backed his players to win, allowing the Dogs to kick some easy goals. Simple.

Griffen, whose work rate had been impressive all night, decided he’d vindicate the coach’s orders, winning several stoppages that he kicked over the Power defence to set up some relatively easy goals for the likes of Giansiracusa, Dalhaus and Murphy. The Doggies’ cheer squad came to life and the change in atmosphere was palpable. Indeed, it was an exciting brand of football that the Dogs were playing and as well as slamming on five goals of their own, they kept the Power goalless in the decisive 3rd term. My under the pump prediction was coming back to haunt me in a big way and I was hoping that the Power would be able to muster the energy to come back in the last quarter, but it wasn’t meant to be. The Dogs’ preparation for this match had been first class and they’d used heat chambers in the weeks leading up to their trip North, knowing full well the heat would take a big toll on their bodies. Although you could tell that the Power players realised the repercussions of a loss, they simply weren’t as well conditioned as their opposition, who gave their supporters plenty to be happy about with a 9 point victory. With the knowledge that the Dees were playing the Hawks the next day and a win to the Doggies was secure I couldn’t help but fell that the blow torch was about to be turned up to its maximal level on Demon’s coach Mark Neeld. McCartney can rest easy for at least another week.


WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.0 4.0 9.4 10.7 (67)

PORT ADELAIDE 3.3 5.5 5.9 8.10 (58)



Western Bulldogs: Giansiracusa 2, Jones, Williams, Griffen, Minson, Addison, Murphy, Dahlhaus, Johannisen

Port Adelaide: Wingard 2, Butcher, Hitchcock, Ebert, Boak, Westhoff, Logan



Western Bulldogs: Griffen, Liberatore, Giansiracusa, Morris, Murphy, Minson, Goodes

Port Adelaide: Cornes, Wingard, Ebert, O’Shea, Westhoff


Umpires: Hosking, Kamolins, Jeffery


Official crowd: 7,850


Our Votes: Griffen (Bulldogs) 3, Wingard (Port) 2, Murphy (Bulldogs) 1


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