Finals Week 1 – West Coast Eagles v Western Bulldogs: Not In Our Wildest Dreams

WCEvWBD

It’s 12pm on the day of the elimination final between the Dogs and the Eagles. Some Doggies’ fans probably would be jumping up and down in excitement to see what goes down tonight. I’m not so excited, more intrigued than anything else to see how this team goes in a cut-throat elimination final against arguably one of the in-form sides at the moment in West Coast, especially when it’s played at their own dung hill in Domain Stadium.

Leading up to the week, I had given the team little hope that we’d get through to the semi-finals next week, the facts don’t lie. We haven’t beaten the Eagles over there since 2010, we haven’t won a final since 2010, and the last time we played the Eagles in a final over there, we copped an absolute thumping, but that was 10 years ago and the fact that the Dogs lost to a struggling Fremantle a couple of weeks ago doesn’t help the cause either.

Regardless of what was going to happen tonight, I couldn’t have been any prouder of how the Sons of the West have handled themselves all year round. The Eagles on the other hand, have defeated GWS at Spotless, Hawthorn at home and Adelaide over at Adelaide Oval, they couldn’t be any more on fire. But if there was one thing that we can take heading into this game, is that without the AFL granting the eight finalists a week off at the conclusion of round 23, we probably wouldn’t have had Jack Macrae or Tom Liberatore back in. Both men were injured following the round 19 loss to Geelong and have been sorely missed since. Maybe the week off would have an opposite effect on the West Coast lads.

I go about my day like I would any other day, I post a preview of the game on another website around lunchtime, I go to the gym for an hour or so late in the afternoon, and I clean myself up just before the game, and with about a few minutes until the first bounce, I pulled up a seat on the couch with my brother Leigh, who also believed that we would cop a thumping from the Eagles, despite the fact we both went to their previous meeting earlier in the year. I caught up with my cousin Taylor on the weekend, and she thought that we’d cop a walloping, but she’s always been quite the pessimist.

The Dogs started strongly, with three behinds in the opening minutes. Lachie Hunter missed what should’ve been a goal from 30 metres out, directly in front, Jordan Roughead typically sprays one and Tory Dickson intended to pass one out to Clay Smith when he really should’ve goaled. The boys look on tonight, but have been wasteful, again in front of the big sticks. How do the Eagles respond? I wonder.

They get the opening two goals of the match, through their twin towers of the West Coast forward line. Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling kick the opening two goals as the Eagles open up a nine-point lead. ‘

Bloody hell, here we go again!!’ were my initial thoughts, but Liam Picken kicks truly from straight in front and gets the Dogs up and running, Caleb Daniel, who was seriously unlucky to not win the AFL’s rising star award earlier in the week puts one through to put the Dogs in front! Tory Dickson then lives up to his ‘sharpshooter’ moniker and slots one through from close range, but on a tight angle, and then Tom Liberatore snaps through the Doggies fourth of the quarter, all goals coming from a span of nine minutes, what a start!!

The Eagles get a chance to get goals back via Mark LeCras but failed to convert on his opportunities, and the Dogs somehow find themselves in front at the first break. I’m trying my hardest to contain my excitement here, we still have three quarters of footy to go and i’m expecting the Eagles to make some sort of comeback in the second term.

But it doesn’t happen. Dickson puts through his second goal, Luke Dahlhaus and Lachie Hunter bang through their first goals of the night and all of a sudden, the Dogs find themselves ahead by 31 points, nobody could’ve predicted this. Tom Boyd starts to get himself involved in the game, taking marks, and getting his hands on the ball, he misses two shots on goal, one of them from right next to the fence, whilst the other one was terrific crumb that just missed to the left.

Lin Jong injures his collarbone in a Jeremy McGovern tackle, and the camera shows Jong’s reaction on the bench perfectly. As the tears roll down his cheeks, everybody knew that his game and his season was done. Poor Jongy, he might’ve just played his last game in Bulldog colours too. Jordan Roughead and Easton Wood also have sweating moments as they were in the hands of trainers in the first half but both men return to the field to contribute.

My brother and I still wait for someone from the Eagles to kick a goal, Elliot Yeo squanders a massive opportunity from straight in front. Eagles’ coach Adam Simpson gives out a reaction almost similar to that of the Eagles’ fans, that would’ve been extremely frustrating for them. Jack Darling takes a mark inside 50, but ran a step forward the umpire called play on and pinned him for holding the ball as he was wrapped in a Matt Suckling tackle. Finally, they get one through the returning Mitch Brown, as he is given a gimme goal in the goal-square as the pro-Eagles crowd tries to lift for their team. The Dogs are ahead by 24 points at half-time, could the Dogs be going into a semi final? Still plenty of time to remain.

But the Dogs continue to pile the pressure on the Eagles in the second half, kicking the first two goals of the term. Clay Smith finds himself on the receiving end of some Tom Boyd brilliance, much to the displeasure of the West Coast crowd. Liam Picken takes another strong grab inside 50 between two Eagles and converts another six-pointer from a difficult angle, Dogs ahead by 38!!

The Eagles try to get some credibility back to the scoreboard, but fail to do so, although an impressive pack mark by a man as lightly-built as Josh Hill couldn’t be ignored, he snaps from just outside the goal-square on a difficult angle, but as it’s been the case for most of the night, not much is going their way. Jack Darling uncharacteristically pulls out of a marking contest going back with the flight and Scott Lycett sends a bomb towards the centre which puts Elliot Yeo under the pump and coughs it up as a result, with Josh Dunkley the recipient of a relatively easy goal, Dogs are back out to a 35-point lead.

The Dogs continue to pile on the pressure of the Eagles, with big Roughy taking a strong grab and then finishing it off with a nice running goal – 41 points the difference, and despite a late goal from Darling – his second of the game, the Dogs still entered in at three-quarter time ahead by six goals. It looked pretty good from here, but it wasn’t done yet.

However, any chances of a late West Coast comeback were officially done by the second minute of the last term as Josh Dunkley snaps truly to send the Dogs ahead by 42 points. That margin nearly grew into a 60-point deficit, but Leigh and I were already singing the Dogs’ praises. Not even in our wildest dreams had we predicted this, the Dogs won every quarter, soundly beat the Eagles in every statistic. Sounds almost like last year’s elimination final against Adelaide, except this time, the lads won and won comfortably. Now there’s only one thing left to do.

“We’ve gotta go book tickets for next week” I tell Leigh.

West Coast Eagles 2.3 3.6 5.9 7.10.52
Western Bulldogs 4.4 7.6 11.9 14.15.99

Goals

West Coast Eagles: Darling 2, Kennedy 2, Hill, Brown, LeCras
Western Bulldogs: Picken 2, Dickson 2, Dunkley 2, Dahlhaus, Hunter, Daniel, Liberatore, Smith, Roughead, Bontempelli, Stringer

Best

West Coast Eagles: Gaff, Hutchings, Shuey, Butler, Hurn, Priddis
Western Bulldogs: Dahlhaus, Daniel, Picken, Johannisen, Hamling, M. Boyd, Hunter

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. Cat from the Country says:

    I had no doubt that the Doggies would win.
    I reminded my husband, the Doggies member, that this is the team who gave the Weagles an 8 goal first term lead and still won rhe game … over there!

    Must always have faith

  2. Dreams? Mine were wet dreams. The Bulldogs got the girl. Now they are taking her to Melbourne for the big dance. Will they go all the way with her? Either way its a memorable affair.
    Good stuff Alex.

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