Round 19 – Western Bulldogs v Port Adelaide: The Other Big Freeze

A newly developing AFL tradition is the Big Freeze. Now in its fourth season, the Queen’s Birthday game between Melbourne and Collingwood has a sideshow dedicated to raising money for motor neuron disease, something this author fully supports.

In those games, only a few ‘lucky’ people get frozen, with varying celebrities and footballers sliding down into an icy pool. But on a Sunday afternoon in Ballarat, 6,540 fans* braved the freezing temperatures to watch the Bulldogs v Power game.

You could be forgiven for giving the game a miss as a casual fan, or even a hardcore one. Not only did you have to stand on a muddy hill with wind and rain lashing at you, but the game was unlikely to be too entertaining – the Power would go top four with a win, while the Bulldogs had one win in the last nine weeks.

Despite the odds (and weather) being stacked against them, the Dogs gave it a red hot go. Within twenty seconds of the bounce, Mitch Wallis had a mark within scoring range. Within a minute, he’d kicked the goal against my judgement (‘There’s no way he’ll kick this’, I said to my grandfather, before eating humble pie). The Power struck back with a Jack Watts set shot from the pocket, one of the few moments of skill on a soggy ground.

After twenty goalless minutes, Jackson Trengove gave the Dogs the lead, scoring a goal against his old club and against the run of play. At the other end, on the stroke of quarter time, Justin Westhoff kicked truly from the edge of the goalsquare to give the Power a two point lead that probably should have been more, given their dominance of the game.

The Power continued to control the game in the second quarter, with Charlie Dixon using his big frame (he was the tallest player on the ground) to take a contested mark and convert early. Keeping themselves in, the Dogs struck back through first gamer Fergus Greene. Steven Motlop scored a running goal for the Power, but Trengove’s second pushed the Bulldogs back within range. At half time, the Power led 4.4 to 4.0 – both quarters had had the exact same scoreline, 2.2 to 2.0 – but the close scoreline flattered the Bulldogs.

The third quarter was when Port broke the game open, with the Bulldogs falling victim to the second-half fadeout that’s bugged them too often this year. Dixon scored twice early in the third, with a Wingard goal an intermission, blowing the margin out from four points to twenty three. Josh Schache gave the Bulldogs a little bit of hope, taking a mark at the front of a pack before converting. Holding out until the break without conceding, the Dogs were just twenty points down and some fans – including this author – were hoping that they could make the most of their slight chance.

To make a long story short – no, no they could not. The Dogs even reached a new low, not scoring in a quarter for the first time all season. As the skies darkened, Port’s lead increased and the Bulldog fan’s hopes fell too. Charlie Dixon scored his fourth, and a few minutes later – after Robbie Gray got on the board too – his fifth, bringing his Ballarat tally to nine goals in two games. And the last goal for the match was scored by first gamer Kane Farrell, no doubt having a better day than Greene.

While the Dogs will be waiting for their season to end, the Power still have plenty to play for. They’re currently sitting just inside the top four, but they have a tricky draw coming up, with games against West Coast and Collingwood. In a season as close as this one, every game counts, so the Power will draw strength from what was ultimately an easy one here, regroup, and prepare for next week.


W BULLDOGS   2.0   4.0   5.4     5.4 (34)
PT ADELAIDE   2.2   4.4   7.6   11.12 (78)

Goals
W Bulldogs: Trengove 2, Wallis, Greene, Schache
Pt Adelaide: Dixon 5, Watts, Westhoff, Motlop, Wingard, Gray, Farrell


*Fun fact: that’s the lowest attendance for a game in Victoria since 1996.

About

I write about sports, mostly Australian football and cricket. Particularly focused on the statistical side of the game.

Comments

  1. Hi Nick/Claire,
    How did you rate Polec’s game? I thought he was nearly best on ground.

  2. Neil Anderson says:

    The last time the weather was that bad was standing in the outer at the then Western Oval for the last Bulldogs game. A bigger frozen, wet crowd but well-worth it for the last game…and we beat The Eagles.
    After that time we shared a ‘ home-ground ‘ as teams like the Swans, Cats and Eagles developed their fortresses.
    I think we might have not-scored in a quarter a few times this year.
    It’s becoming a trait that that the Bulldogs fade in the second-halves. Young immature bodies (half the team are from the VFL) so it is not surprising. If it happened at the start of next year we can be concerned.

  3. Nick/Claire Fredriksson says:

    MikeD: It’s weird, in recent times I’ve been noticing individual players less and less…
    Neil: Presumably you’ve been in worse conditions – this girl’s young and used to the Docklands roof XD. And we’ve had plenty of goalless quarters (even a goalless half), but we’ve at least scrounged a point all the time beforehand.

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