Round 18 – Western Bulldogs v Gold Coast: Thoughts on some fun in the sun



Taking a different approach to writing this report, as I’m in experimental mood. It’s almost like word or phrase association as a simple report on this game probably isn’t going to be that exciting. Besides, perhaps like some coaches finding a Plan B to get to where we want to go can be effective.



To say that the Bulldogs would beat the Suns by that many would have been the minimum expectation. After all, the visiting team were missing players who were either major ball winners (Number 9, Lyons, Barlow) or their best key defenders (May, Thompson). Yes injury is often an excuse fans, media and coaching staff often fall back on when they diagnose their failures, particularly when the replacements in the professional era should be somewhat able to as a collective make up for what an individual can provide. The issue however is that there are only so many absentees the collective would be able to cover, and many of the younger Suns couldn’t contribute enough as a collective to cause great concern to the opposition.



Whenever a game is played in either Cairns or Darwin so much is made about how humid or hot it can get or how slick the ball can get owing to either dew or perspiration. On Saturday the biggest issue confronting the players was a tricky breeze pushing the ball towards the grandstand side and tending to blow towards the left forward pocket rather than being a normal straight breeze favouring a particular end. The surface was also cut up following the curtain raiser (won by South Queensland against North Queensland, despite the goal of the day kicked by Cairns player Fitzroy Greenwood) which suggested that the surface was well watered yet was firm enough to prevent major slipping from the players.



Usually the ground is well equipped with good standard lighting, certainly better than the Gold Coast who seemingly have reduced the number of lights on their towers being used this year. Problem is that in both the first and second quarter the lights on the outer side (where I watched the game) failed. It didn’t cause a problem during the game, for the sun provided enough natural light to see the play continue, but I’m guessing officials were concerned that lights failed on multiple occasions, relieved that the lights held up well when it needed to in the second half, and thankful that authorities scheduled a twilight fixture this year as opposed to a night game which was played in 2016.




Goalkicking has been a major issue for the defending premiers, and many in the online world were trying to come up with theories over who would kick the goals given 2 boom recruits (T. Boyd, Cloke) were still overcoming personal issues, Stringer had twanged a hamstring worse than I did on the Gold Coast running the marathon alongside Spida Everitt, and Bontempelli probably was needed in the middle more than forward. Liam Picken had struggled through the season since he was concussed Perth early in the season. Sure he had provided goals in critical games before, anyone who fondly remembers last year’s finals series will tell you that. But if anyone told you he would be the big beneficiary of Gold Coast missing their big backmen recording a Ground Record 6 goal haul, people would either laugh at you or await results of some sort of test (lie detector or drugs) to see if you were serious. First quarter it seemed like he was marking everything, and by the last term it was all about shaking, baking and snapping.



Structurally it caused much grief from my vantage point as the Suns managed to get players in behind the zone too often early in the game. Eventually it became what suffocated Gold Coast having used some pressure themselves to force opposition turnovers to get back within a point. It probably confirmed what I knew having watched Gold Coast live twice before this season, the best way to stop Gold Coast having any momentum is to in Basketball terms make them play a half court offence rather than allowing the fast break style their players perform best in. The likes of Saad, Miller, Harbrow and Hall, who are their best 4 ball carriers, didn’t have the room in order to break lines and get quick ball to their key forwards. For a time the Suns forwards were able to do the same to the Dogs (3 errors from a combination of Johannisen/Daniel, Murphy and Williams all lead to 3rd quarter goals), but they were unable to sustain the pressure from the time Ainsworth kicked a banana set shot for their last goal until the charge of the light brigade when the kids made a bee line for the centre circle after the second siren.



If you were watching the game from another location I can assure you the wasn’t a lot of noise being made at the ground from the crowd. The official attendance was actually an increase on the 2016 figure (perhaps the tag of defending premiers, the time of the game and the attraction of sunny weather were the factors), but it was rather quiet throughout. The Bulldog cheer squad did their best on occasions but their impact was low, there was a few vocal fans in the outer but even the annoying plastic clappers couldn’t increase the noise levels. Not too sure what could be done to address this for many don’t seem to like anyone trying to make a small crowd seem bigger, just ask the Adelaide Crows or West Adelaide.



The one sour point for the Bulldogs was losing Dale Morris again to injury, this time with a broken arm. The sight of the ambulance departing the ground just as I was heading towards a $10 roast beef and gravy roll probably confirmed this could be a bad injury and may have left his remaining 21 comrades flat to begin the second half. In some ways sacrificing his body trying to create a contest (this time on Tom Lynch) could be seen as a fitting way to go out if it is the last act for the Werribee product on an AFL field given the number of fractures he’s suffered in his career. Personally I have a feeling this will be the end, given it’s unlikely he’ll be suiting up for the 2018 season.



A few of the Bulldog young players had their moments. Bailey Dale continued to progress with a nice goal in the second quarter the highlight of his game, Bailey Williams despite being caught in possession a couple of times in the 3rd quarter did some nice things from half back, and Lewis Young (disappointingly but understandably sans long sleeves) was comfortable keeping Peter Wright under control when the Suns managed to penetrate. Gold Coast’s kids were largely stifled by the defensive press, although Fiorini was their most willing worker with so many others out of commission. As for the Bulldog’s future in season 2017, leapfrogging St Kilda may have been expected but the season is on the line against Essendon next week, if indeed there is a season on the line given many conceded the finals a lost cause a month ago.





DOGS: Picken 6.2, Dale 3.0, Dahlhaus 2.0, Murphy 1.1, Redpath 1.1, Wallis 1.1, Liberatore 1.0, Roughead 1.0, Wood 0.2, McLean 0.1, Suckling 0.1, Williams 0.1, RUSHED 0.4
SUNS: Ainsworth 2.2, Martin 2.1, Hall 1.1, Lynch 1.0, Swallow 1.0, Wright 1.0, MacPherson 0.2, McKenzie 0.1, RUSHED 0.1


DOGS: Picken, Wallis, Dale, Williams, McLean, Macrae
SUNS: Fiorini, Martin, Lynch, Hall

2: Mitch WALLIS (DOGS)
1: Jackson MACRAE (DOGS)

FIELD: Hayden “Avril” GAVINE, Chris KAMOLINS, Nathan WILLIAMSON (who IMO should take up modelling as a second career) (EM: Alex WHETTON)
GOAL: Michael PALM, Steven PIPERNO

CROWD: 9364 @ Cazaly’s

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.


  1. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    I like the approach Mick.
    Depletion, conditions, lighting, defence, atmosphere, finale?, future … could fit a life really. Just can’t quite find where Picken would fit. Being a Swan follower, can’t say I recall his finals goals ‘fondly’ …
    Bailey Dale is one of the great 2017 AFL names.
    I’d love to go to a game in the far north. Thanks for the proxy experience.

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