Round 1 – Western Bulldogs v Fremantle: Satisfaction Guaranteed

After a couple of entrees on the long Easter weekend to ensure the appetite was sufficiently satisfied, it was time for the main reason why I made the trek from Central Queensland to football central. Yes there was the usual hysterical hype surrounding the Bulldogs after a semi successful season (making the finals was an achievement when I myself only expected 10 wins), but it was time to put those words and translate the excitement in the stands onto the grass of the Docklands, whose roof was left in the open position (tray tables folded back, seat belts fastened as well folks).

The signs were good when entering the precinct for a good turnout. Expectations for the attendance were low considering the Sunday public holiday and the opposition supporters tending not to come to Melbourne games in massive numbers. However it was reasonably crowded along the footbridge linking Spencer Street (it will never be Southern Cross in my eyes) with the buildings that now engulf the ground, which is the reason that I believe many want to cash in on the land value and demolish the ground. Once upon a time the stadium was pretty easy to distinguish, but now looking for it is now slightly easier than finding Wally. At least the faithful in red white and blue had little trouble finding the fortress, certainly there were more in attendance pre game than there was the previous night.

Usually reading the banner is a highlight of Western Bulldog games, but this time the humour took a back seat to a returning son of a gun. Tom Liberatore’s return was cemented with the first meaningful possession of the game which resulted in the Bont opening his account for the season 20 seconds into the game. It was confirmed once and for all by hitting the scoreboard with a long right foot goal. I don’t think anyone had ever seen him kick at all with the right peg, let alone hit the scoreboard. Naturally the lads all got around him, having to show caution not to accidentally squash Caleb Daniel, I still cringe every time he’s surrounded in a pack for some reason.

From then on it was party time in the opening stanza. As the Purple Peril showed as much fight as paper in a wind gust and had a scoring rate matched by Bruce Reid (the cricketer as opposed to the footballer), the 7 goal blast kicking to the Footscray End sent the faithful into raptures. The Package of course was in his element, even setting up others to prove that another son of a gun could kick better than his old man (although in Josh Dunkley’s case, despite a 10m dribbler on a slight angle not being sufficient evidence in the eyes of many, it probably wasn’t that hard). Some were still wary of the fadeout against the Saints last year, but by quarter time just as many were declaring game over, knowing Fremantle weren’t known as a team that kicked excessive goals to win matches.

The middle sectors despite a lack of scoring still provided plenty of highlights for the faithful. There was a lengthy score review denying the Purples their first goal (grazed the padding on the post apparently), proving that our score review system could take as long as the NRL Bunker’s. The Package had his usual additions to the highlight reel, although my tweet comparing him to Mark Viduka may have been factually incorrect given Dukes never flew over 2 opponents to bring the ball to ground by hand for himself to goal. Add to that Easton Wood’s contender for Mark of the Year which undoubtedly would be clubhouse leader until Nic Nat or Jeremy Howe take their usual skyscrapers and I’m sure the fact that the 3rd quarter went under an elapsed time of 28 minutes would have passed virtually unnoticed.

Despite murmurs in the crowd when Pavlich kicked the first goal of the last, which combined with a sloppy bump on Wood that got him reported (and rightly cleared, got his shoulder rather than his noggin) was his net contribution to the day, the result was still never in doubt particularly with a late 5 goal blast to pad out the margin. Even the maligned million dollar man Tom Boyd got involved after missing a couple of earlier shots (thought he was reasonable but the opposition were as useful mixing Dr Pepper with Diet Coke). I even managed to invoke the Damien Martyn rocket up Jack Macrae. For those that don’t know, I’d often remark how much of a dud Damien Martyn was when he came into bat, then he’d go on to make a hundred. Despite getting over 30 touches I thought some of Macrae’s decision making was ordinary at best and he seems to lack a yard for an outside player, yet moments after I tweeted that he was doing some dumb things on a footy field he ends up drilling a one step 50 metre bomb.

So it’s mission accomplished for Round 1, and after all results the Dogs are in rarefied air on top of the tree. Unlike many others online I’ve resisted the urge to take the lid off, for not many winners of the Melbourne Cup are leading as the field enters the course proper for the first time. I expect the demise of the Purples to be exaggerated and probably ill advised given they’ll probably win the bulk if not all of their 12 Perth games, but then again I could channel George Gregan and brag to their fans, FIVE MORE YEARS BOYS!

In closing, a word on Jason Johannisen’s hair. Going from Odell Beckham Jr’s top deck style to the Nathan Eagleton/Pedro Cerrano total baldness look isn’t that easy. I’m half expecting him to look like Dennis Rodman in a few weeks, without the zaniness of course.

 

MATCH DETAILS

WESTERN BULLDOGS 15.13.103
FREMANTLE 5.8.38

SCORERS
DOGS: Stringer 5.1, Bontempelli 1.1, Dunkley 1.1, Johannisen 1.1, Liberatore 1.1, McLean 1.1, Suckling 1.1, T.Boyd 1.0, Daniel 1.0, Macrae 1.0, Roughead 1.0, Biggs 0.1, Dahlhaus 0.1, Morris 0.1, Murphy 0.1, Picken 0.1, Wallis 0.1
FREO: Pavlich 1.1, Taberner 1.1, Walters 1.1, Suban 1.0, Weller 1.0, Mayne 0.2, Ballantyne 0.1, D.Pearce 0.1, Sutcliffe 0.1

BEST
DOGS: Johannisen, Stringer, McLean, Biggs, Liberatore, Adams
FREO: Neale, Sheridan, Ibbotson, C.Pearce

VOTES
3: Jason JOHANNISEN (Dogs)
2: JAKE STRINGER (Dogs, capitalised for D.Brereton’s benefit)
1: Toby McLEAN (Dogs)

OFFICIALS
FIELD: Robert O’GORMAN, Simon MEREDITH, Shaun RYAN (EM: Shane STEWART)
BOUNDARY: Chris ROBERTS, Tim LOUGOON, Christopher GORDON, Adam COOTE
GOAL: Chris APPLETON, Luke EDWARDS

CROWD: 27832

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.

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