AFL Round 19 – Western Bulldogs v Sydney: An honourable loss for the Dogs

By Jake ‘Cobba’ Stevens

 

What is an honourable loss? Losing by less than you thought? Having a crack at it? You think I would probably know. I’ve played seven years of junior footy, another three at my current home, Mornington Footy Club, and I’ve been in a losing Grand Final side three times. No one said premierships were easy, success, by it’s very nature demands hard work. Playing my first year of senior footy in 2013, in the reserves side, I experienced lots of honourable losses.

Five defeats by less than three goals, including two by less than a kick, we have been leading at 3 quarter time on three occasions before tasting defeat yet again.

In an area in which I feel all too familiar, the Sydney Swans seem to know little about. In the upset of my playing career I take refuge in the Swans recent success.

On Sunday I headed to the Docklands to see them match up against the Bulldogs. Ironically, just the day before, I was the one in the Mornington Bulldogs gear playing against the red Vs of Karingal.

It was a turn around game for our club. With a howling 6-goal wind, the scores were even at the last break. But with the wind in our sails (literally) we floated home to win by 40 points.

It was great to finally taste a hard-fought win, and make the weekend complete, my bloods would surely get the job done on the lowly Footscray.

As Dad and I missed the train into Etihad Stadium, we ran to our seats for the first bounce. Something I wasn’t particularly keen on, as I had just completed the Devilbend 10k Fun Run hours earlier.

Under the waterproof protection of the closed roof, The dogs came out snarling and young Tom Campbell provided the game with its first two goals. Somewhat surprised, captain Kizza Jack roved a stoppage and ran into an open goal as he usually does.

The Swans seemed unsettled in the early minutes, but quick hands and contested possession meant Luke Parker’s and Jed ‘Roast’ Lamb’s contribution to the scoreboard was important.

Griffen looked as though he would produce another vote winning game, and Cooney’s hustle and late goal meant the Dogs were still in touch by quarter time.

In the second term, Sydney seemed to click into ‘Premiers gear’ as again, Lamb’s clearance kick to Tippet in the fifty increased the margin. Big Mike Pyke wasn’t trying anything new when he was taking plenty of contested marks and quick hands to O’Keefe made sure the Swans were well in front.

It was especially clear from the third level that the underdogs were applying good attacking pressure, epitomised by Murphy who ran down Jack, stole the ball and sent it back to their forwards.

The team was playing inspired footy, but it was their poor entry into their forward 50 that let them down.

At half time, the Swans led by three goals.

Tommy Liberatore was finding plenty of the ball in the guts. Jarrad Grant snapped over his shoulder for his second, and the plucky Dogs were up and about. When Dahlhaus ended up with the pill 10 metres out and snapped a goal, the young kid behind me asked his dad whether he could grow hair into dreadlocks. I don’t blame him!

There was a real fight about the Dogs, in a week of upsets, would Sydney be the third casualty?

Thankfully, they weren’t done for yet. With slick ball movement and pinpoint accuracy, Shaw ran out of the backline and gave to Pyke who released Parker, who teed up Tippet 25m in front. That kind of team movement you can only see in the best of sides.

But the Dogs weren’t done with yet. Campbell tapped down a wayward ball to which Giansiracusa half volleyed through the sticks. A goal Lionel Messi would be impressed with, it was a real contender for goal of the year.

However hard the Bulldogs fought for their goals, Sydney’s reply seemed just too easy. In the space of the last 2 minutes, Grundy, Mumford and Tippet all booted home majors, and broke the spirits of the valiant Dogs, now leading by 26.

Part of me felt sympathy for Footscray, their effort couldn’t be faulted. But I knew a win here would mean the Swans would move up to 2nd on the ladder, an opportunity they can’t afford to miss.

In the final quarter, Jesse White bobbed up and kicked his first. It was a good day from White. His recent run of form was impressive, but I still had doubts of his consistency, especially against the tough sides. I think the swans would fetch a handy price for the big man, probably a wise move considering the amount of tall talent the Swans had in reserve.

Brother Kieran and Brandon Jack combine for two successive goals. One to Kieran, one to Brandon. Good to see the boys are playing nicely and sharing.

Kurt Tippet had well and truly arrived, finishing the day with six straight, and a confidence boost in his seventh game this year.

There were a few junk-time goals, but the game had already been wrapped up. It wasn’t a convincing win, but one that I think showed the swans can resistant any challenge on the march into September.

The Western Bulldogs didn’t come away with the win on the weekend, but I’m sure they and their supporters will rest easy knowing it was an honourable loss, and they gave it a crack. I should know.

 

Western Bulldogs       4.1       7.3       11.4     15.9     (99)

Sydney Swans                        5.1       10.3     15.6     21.8     (134)

 

GOALS

Western Bulldogs: Grant 3, Campbell 2, Giansiracusa 2, Dickson 2, Stevens 2, Young, Addison, Dahlhaus, Hunter

Sydney Swans: Tippett 6, Lamb 2, Bird 2, Bolton 2, K. Jack 2, Parker, Mumford, O’Keefe, White, Grundy, Mumford, B. Jack

 

BEST

Western Bulldogs: Griffen, Wallis, Liberatore, Minson, Grant, Cooney

Sydney Swans: K. Jack, Tippett, McVeigh, O’Keefe, Mumford, Rampe, Hannebery

 

 

Official crowd: 22,647 at Etihad Stadium

My votes: 3. Griffen. 2. Jack. 1. Tippet

About Jake "Cobba" Stevens

Jake "Cobba" Stevens is currently studying Sports Journalism at La Trobe Uni. One of the youngest 'old bloods' supporters in Melbourne, he can't decide if the crowd was louder at the 2005 or 2012 Grand Final.

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