Round 1 – Western Bulldogs v Fremantle: Easter Sunday Delights

It’s Easter Sunday Morning. I wake up just a little bit past 10am with the knowledge that I’m going to a footy game that could already determine how season 2016 goes for my Western Bulldogs. I could see this game going one of three ways: The first way is that we get blown out of the park by Fremantle’s restricting brand of football and the Dogs are nowhere to be found, and puts us on the back foot. The second way is a bit similar to the last time these two met – We give them a fight and nearly send them back to WA with no premiership points in hand and give the competition a scare – Or the last way is that we win and set ourselves up for a monster 2016 defeating last year’s minor premiers and putting the entire competition on notice.

Before I venture to Etihad Stadium with my Dad, brother and cousin, I spend a little bit of time with the family eating chocolate and discuss the Bulldogs chances today. My cousin Taylor remained assured that we were going to get pummeled, whilst my brother Leigh was in the same boat as me. After witnessing last year’s agonising loss to the Crows in the final, he has no clue how we’ll go.

During the half hour long car trip from Sandringham to Etihad Stadium, Leigh and Taylor are listening to their music on their respective ipods, while I discuss with my Dad about the top 50 AFL players of today. All the journos have had their say and I just recently put up mine for the first time on a sports blog. Most of this discussion was directed towards who should’ve been number one: Ablett or Fyfe? I opted to go with Ablett as number one, but my dad raised a number of good points about Fyfe.

We arrived and parked at our usual spot, and made our way towards the stadium. Whilst Dad was purchasing the tickets, I grabbed a copy of the record and went through it with both Taylor and Leigh. 17 year old Taylor – kept on pointing out her favourite players – in particular Jack Macrae – as I scrolled through the team photo and 14 year old Leigh kept on talking about Jake “The Package” Stringer, I think he’s found his favourite player.

It took Dad a bit longer than I thought to get the tickets, he tried getting us first level seats with the Bulldogs cheersquad, but could only do as good as third level on the wing or sitting next to the Freo cheersquad, but I was more than ok with the third level. I was puzzled to see the roof open when we walked in and took our seats. When is it ever open? But the sun was out and the sky was beautiful. But what happened later, beautiful would be an understatement. Taylor, Leigh and I went to get our pre-game ritual of a bucket of chips, while Taylor also bought herself and I some coffee and made our way back to our seats waiting for the start of the game.

It only took 30 seconds into the game for the first goal to be kicked and it was some guy called ‘The Bont’ that took that dubious honour, I can’t wait to see what he does in season 2016. Four minutes later and Tom Liberatore kicked his first goal in his first game back from that ACL injury that cost him all of last year, and it was incredible to see everyone get around him afterwards.

At the other end of the ground, former captain Matthew Pavlich and serial pest Hayden Ballantyne failed to convert simple shots on goal and the Dogs made them pay for it. T-Mac (Toby McLean), The Package, Jordan Roughead, Jason Johannisen (AKA Nathan Eagleton) and debutant Josh Dunkley all kicked goals in the first, Dunks was looking right at home in his first game, but it was nothing compared to fellow debutant Marcus Adams, who was making his presence felt in the back six, and made sure that Matthew Pavlich didn’t get an easy touch.

41 points down at the first break, Ross Lyon needed to do something to stop this onslaught at quarter time and get his charges back into the game, and tried to resort to his good ol’ gameplan of clogging up the Bulldogs’ run, but it didn’t stop how awful their disposal of the ball was, and the Dogs only kicked three goals in the next two quarters with ‘The Package’ kicking two of those en route to a five goal haul, but collectively, the Dogs should’ve kicked more.I was disgusted at the fact Tom Boyd couldn’t even score from 25 metres out basically straight in front, but his work around the ground all around the ground as the back-up ruckman made up for that blunder, while a frustrated Matthew Pavlich got reported for a high hit on Easton Wood that could’ve potentially wrecked his season. At this point I suggested from the third level that former Fremantle captain should’ve called it a day last year.

Woody responded by taking what is sure to be the mark of the year in the third quarter. He made a name for himself last year for taking intercept marks but decided on this occasion, a standard grab wasn’t good enough, running back with the flight, he opted to leap and sit on the shoulders of Lachie Weller and grabbing the pill before falling flat on his back. Almost everyone in my area got up on their feet and applauded that piece of brilliance. If that doesn’t take Mark of the Year honours, then I don’t know what will.

It was three quarter time and despite having a 40 point lead, Fremantle were slowly working their way back into the game and I was preparing myself for a comeback similar to what Collingwood did in the NAB challenge a fortnight ago, but fortunately it wasn’t to be, Pavlich finally got on the board to put the Dockers 34 points in the rear, but it was the Dogs who broke free with five unanswered to record a 65-point win, with 167cm sensation Caleb Daniel popping through the last goal after the siren. The gang and I were all stoked to have such a great win first up against an opposition that finished up as the minor premiers last year.

I went over to my Hawks-supporting old man and told him I was looking forward to the Dogs-Hawks game in a couple of weeks and he simply scoffed at that and said it was only one game. Well it’s one game that may have just set us up for a big year. As we walked back to our car, Leigh and I discussed who the better players were for the Dogs and what in the hell happened to Fremantle to cause them to struggle so much. The Dockers simply didn’t turn up to play. Their darling Brownlow medallist failed to fire as well as about another dozen of Freo players that should be performing better than how they did on the day.

I get in the car and take a little nap as the old man took us home. With the radio broadcast of Port Adelaide and St.Kilda playing in the car, I briefly think about the Saints next week, they’re no pushovers in this competition and as much as I hate the Saints and Nick Riewoldt, I hope they give us a much more thrilling contest than what we got against Freo.

Western Bulldogs 7.1 9.7 10.11 15.13.103
Fremantle 0.2 1.5 4.7 5.8.38


Western Bulldogs: Stringer 5, Johannisen, Macrae, T. Boyd, Dunkley, Suckling, Liberatore, Roughead, Bontempelli, Daniel, McLean

Fremantle: Weller, Pavlich, Walters, Taberner, Suban


Western Bulldogs: Johannisen, Stringer, Biggs, Murphy, Hunter, McLean

Fremantle: Neale Sheridan, Sutcliffe, C. Pearce, Dawson, Spurr, Ibbotson

Umpires: O’Gorman, Meredith, Ryan

Crowd: 27,832 at Etihad Stadium

Votes: 3: Johannisen (Western Bulldogs), 2: Stringer (Western Bulldogs) 1: Biggs (Western Bulldogs)

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.


  1. Andrew Walker says

    Great report Alex. It made our drive down from Wangaratta so worthwhile. Every bulldog player contributed. I think the shaved head is a better look than the mop in the WB photo for Johannisen.
    Hard to believe the enthusiasm of Caleb Daniel. New boys, Josh Dunkley and Marcus Adams both did well. Look forward to your next report.

  2. “I hope they give us a more thrilling contest” … be carefull what you wish for Alex.

    Well done to the Doggies on the weekend. I went to the game and was bitterly disappointed in my Dockers.

    That said the Doggies had winners all over the park and pace to burn. If they can get some improvement from Boyd this season they may very well make the grand final! But it’s only round 1, so I’ll temper that prediction.

  3. David Zampatti says

    Obviously a tricky week dodging verbal arrows withwords like “Told You So” and “Fucked” carved into their shafts .

    My only retort (and we’ll see in a bit if there’s any truth to it) is that nobody would have beaten the Doggies on that ground in that form. Once it became obvious that we weren’t going to be in it – about three minutes in – it was almost possible to enjoy the speed with the ball and chaos without it the Bullies created. They were simply awe-inspiring.

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