Round 20 – Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne: The Game That Divides Two Friends MK II: Enter The Bont

It wasn’t long after the Doggies lost to the Cats on Friday night, that I sent a text message to my good friend Ellen to ask if we were going to go to the Bulldogs and North game the following Saturday – the following morning, she agreed, but not before she claimed that her Roo-boys were going to belt us again.

We both were excited to see the rematch of their game earlier this year, which saw Ellen’s Kangaroos take home the four points in what was a low-scoring, but still a hotly contested match. But with that said, we were hoping for more goals this time around.

It’s hard to believe that when those two sides met earlier this year, they were occupying the top two spots on the ladder. Now they both sit in the final two spots in the top eight, with both sides missing a number of key players with injuries. As I hopped on the train to meet my friend, she again greeted me with that same question she asked in our last match:

“Ready to lose tonight?”

I responded with a resounding ‘No’. I rated us a huge chance tonight against a North side that was struggling, despite recording a solid win the week before against St. Kilda – a side we couldn’t beat the week before. Most of the train ride to Etihad Stadium was us talking about Footy. Who both sides were missing, who both sides are playing in the run to finals to Melbourne’s shocking win over the Hawks and my game of footy that I had played earlier in the day, it had been weeks since we’ve seen each other, but with everything we were talking about, it almost felt like we haven’t seen each other in years.

We arrive at the ground about an hour before first bounce and we grabbed something from Nando’s for dinner before we made our way into the ground. We grabbed our seats in the first level right next to North Melbourne’s cheer squad, right in one of the forward pockets. We still had some time to kill, so I went and grabbed us both some hot chips and as I got back, the Western Bulldogs had come to our end of the stadium to do their warm-ups, much to the displeasure of Ellen, who was booing as they headed towards us.

She proceeds to tell me how much she cannot stand Marcus Bontempelli, claiming that his comments about her favourite player Lindsay Thomas in the last game struck a chord with not just her, but a lot of North’s fan base.It looked to have bothered a lot of North’s players as well as they got stuck into him just before the first bounce, Michael Firrito the main antagonist in the pre-game scrap. Not the first time he’s done something like this, but nonetheless, he sets the tone for the evening pretty early

North start the game the better side as they control the opening minutes, as Ben Brown opens up the scoring with a mark on the lead and goal, Joel Hamling had no chance. The Dogs have their chances but can’t capitalise on their opportunities, Lachie Hunter’s shot on goal from 45 metres out directly in front drifts to the left. Brent Harvey fresh off breaking an AFL record of most games played, gets North’s second on the board with a standard set shot on goal.

The Dogs continue to squander chances. Clay Smith couldn’t get the ball to sit up for him, as Aaron Mullett provides a stellar run down tackle that leaves Smith a little dazed and confused. Jordan Roughead opts to snap a set shot around the body from deep in the pocket – that frustratingly hits the post. Both sides then register a further two points to their respective totals before Tory Dickson finally drills one home for the Doggies’ first of the night, only just 25 minutes into the first term.

Not surprisingly, a few of the North lads get stuck into ‘The Bont’ at the quarter-time siren, this time it was another notorious pest in Scott Thompson who has had some history with the Dogs.

“Shit, I wish Barry Hall was still playing so he could bloody put him in another headlock”, I say to Ellen. She laughs it off, saying Bontempelli was getting what he deserved. From there I start laughing, but as I calmed down for a second, something else caught my eye.

“Majak’s looking for a fight, probably the most useful thing he’ll do tonight is getting himself fined,” I tell her, looking to stir her up.

“You just wait mate, he’ll kick a bag before this night’s through,” she replies, of course reminding me of the day he kicked six goals on the Dogs in what was only his fourth game of footy.

“You’re delusional Ellen, shut up,” I retort. We share some potato chips I bought earlier on in the day at the quarter time break and talk about the first quarter. I gently let her know how thuggish the North boys are tonight.

“North would be a much better team if they had no Thomas, no Firrito and no Scotty Thompson, all of them are grub players.”

“I love them all, and at least they’re not Hodge and Lewis.” She says, obviously reminding me of how both of the Hawthorn players got rubbed out for weeks for separate hits in an encounter between North and the Hawks last year.

The second quarter begins. Ben Brown, who looked dangerous early in the game, injures his knee in a marking contest. As much as I don’t like seeing people go down with injuries, this was good news for us. Jarrad Waite killed us in the last game and he wasn’t playing tonight and Brown was probably the next best forward for the Roos. For him to go down this early is warning signs for the blue and whites, especially since he was looming as a very dangerous threat in the first quarter.

In the meantime, Caleb Daniel casually marks with only one hand, and goals from 45 metres out, straight in front to put the Doggies in the lead for the first time tonight. North’s Jed Anderson gets reported after hitting Lin Jong high, his report brought various cheers from the Bulldogs’ cheer squad. Shortly afterwards, Marcus Bontempelli takes a strong grab against Thompson inside attacking 50 and makes no mistake with his shot on goal. I get up off the seat and celebrate the goal almost as hard as the boys did. It pleases me to see Bontempelli respond to adversity through his footy, he’s going to be a superstar in a few years time.

North struggled up at the other end to register any score on the board, with Drew Petrie – a man who has previously torched the Dogs on more than one occasion missing two shots on goal, the only points North manage to register for the term, whilst on the other end, Nathan Hrovat, playing his first game of 2016, calmly slots a difficult shot on goal on the run to make it four goals in a row to the Doggies. Jake Stringer could’ve made it five in a row, but the ball bounces horribly for him on the goal-square and it skids to the left for a minor score.

A fifty-metre penalty to Trent Dumont in the final minutes warrants a scuffle in the Doggies’ goal-square. Zaine Cordy knocked him to the ground and was swarmed by an army of North Melbourne players. Shortly after the half-time siren blows and another push and shove between the two sides, with Bontempelli and Firrito both in the thick of it again. As a matter of fact, almost everyone was in there, it was the kind of stuff you would’ve loved to see back in the 80’s and 90’s.

During the half time break, Ellen and I both look on at the AFL 9’s that was playing out on the ground at the main break and talked about the other game that was going on, Adelaide had Brisbane beat at half time and with that, we were both hoping that Brisbane would keep a straight score line (They had kicked 5.0 to that point) and that Adelaide records a cricket score on a battling Lions team (That was going at $1.01 odds).

But back to the game at hand, the Doggies looked to be in firm control, but the lead was only 13 points in what was looking like an almost mirror image of the game we went to earlier this year, only this time the Doggies were in the lead and looked like the better team.

Zaine Cordy sprays a shot a minute into the third term in what was a massive opportunity gone begging for him, but Majak Daw though takes an impressive grab on the top of the goal-square. Controversially the timer goes over the 30-second mark on the stadium, and whilst the umpire was sleeping, the Doggies supporters were jumping up and down, well aware that his time was up. Nonetheless, Daw kicks his first of the evening and reduces the margin to eight points, much to my displeasure. But that displeasure disappeared quickly, as Johannisen sprints through the middle of Etihad and from the edge of the centre square, bombs it through half goal-post height for six points.

It’s becoming a blow-for-blow contest here, as Lindsay Thomas greeted with a round of boos as he lines up for a shot on goal, kicks his first of the night, as the Roos are once again behind by eight. Ellen gets up for a cheer and lets me know about it. It should’ve been two in a row to North Melbourne, as veteran Dale Morris makes a rare error, and turns it over with a kick into the middle of the ground, with Jed Anderson taking an uncontested mark in North’s attacking 50. I put my head down as if that was the game thrown away, but the voice from next to me says otherwise.

“He’ll miss this one you watch,” Ellen says to me, and surely enough, he does. Just misses to the left. I wanted to laugh, but I was too shocked to even say a word. The Dogs take it up the field in a matter of seconds, only for the ball to end up in the hands of Firrito again, Picken catches him and nearly legged him, but Firrito’s handpass finds an opposition player in Hunter, who makes him pay for the turnover with a crucial goal, even better to see the boys get stuck into the North defender, but oh how costly Anderson’s miss was, the former Hawk has had quite the dirty night.

The Dogs make it two goals in a row minutes later as Zaine Cordy marks and goals from just inside the 50 metre paint, he was drafted as a defender and is now developing quite nicely as a makeshift forward. Not much else happens in the lead-up to three-quarter time. The Dogs register another point from Lukas Webb, as his shot is from deep in the forward pocket and the siren sounds minutes after, with the Dogs ahead by 20 at the last break, surprisingly nobody engages in push and shoves as they head to their respective huddles.

I check on the scores from the other game out of curiosity, and to no one’s surprise, Adelaide was ahead by nearly a 100 points, I show the score to Ellen and she nearly bursts out in laughter. Poor Brisbane.

I reckon we’re in for a thrilling finish, but I get the feeling that Ellen is about ready to concede, North’s play tonight was similar to how the Doggies’ played in the round six match, the way they were struggling to get the ball out of defence was very telling in a low-scoring match like this one. Jordan Roughead goals in the fourth minute of the last term to make it a game-high 26-point lead to the Doggies.

It was looking difficult from North at this point, but there was still plenty of time, and the North players knew it, they’re attacking and pressing on the Doggies defenders, but they nearly answer every challenge. Fletcher Roberts was doing an exceptional job on Drew Petrie and Dale Morris was again at his best, stopping goals from all angles. Daniel Wells though finally breaks through for a North goal and the margin drops back down to 20 points with plenty of time to go, but Brent Harvey allows the ball to bounce through his legs and consequently, the ball finds the hands of Jake Stringer, who’s hardly been sighted tonight, but he comes up with a much-needed goal for the Bulldogs at the midway mark of the fourth term.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, North were struggling with injuries, with Scott Thompson  a groin strain, and youngster Ryan Clarke looked in strife with a shoulder, but North still kept coming as I expected. Free kicks to both Jack Ziebell and Todd Goldstein resulted in quick goals to North Melbourne, and all of a sudden, 26 points became 14 points and still with plenty of time to go. It was anyone’s game and we were both getting very nervous, but remarkably with less than eight minutes to go, nobody else scores. Jake Stringer had two opportunities to ice the game with set shots, but as he was having a bad night, he doesn’t even register a score, but as the ball zips up and down the stadium, it looked more and more certain that the Dogs were home.

The siren eventually sounds and I sing the song out as loud as I can. Everyone looks at me as if what I’m doing is wrong but I don’t really care. We hang back a little bit after the teams exit the arena and we focus on how far ahead Adelaide is, they look like they could be closing in on a rare 200-point game.

Before we get ushered out by the security, we discuss briefly about a possible finals match-up. It’s very possible we could have a 5th v 8th elimination final. North just need to survive with Hawthorn, Sydney and GWS in their final games whilst the Dogs have an easy run home and could finish just outside the top four. We both hope we square off in a final before the year is done. One more hard-fought encounter between these two sides couldn’t harm either of us now, could it?

Western Bulldogs    1.4    4.5    7.7     9.7.61
North Melbourne    2.2    2.4    4.5    7.5.47

Western Bulldogs: Dickson, Daniel, Bontempelli, Hrovat, Johannisen, Hunter, Cordy, Roughead, Stringer
North Melbourne: Brown, Harvey, Daw, Thomas, Wells, Ziebell, Goldstein

Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, M.Boyd, Dahlhaus, Morris, Johannisen, Wood, Roberts
North Melbourne: Macmillan, Goldstein, Wells, Cunnington, Gibson, Dumont

Umpires: Nicholls, Ryan, Mollison

Crowd: 30,740 at Etihad Stadium

Votes: 3: M. Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs) 2: M. Boyd (Western Bulldogs) 1: J. Macmillan (North Melbourne)

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. Now i seek an answer. When was the last AFL game when there were no multiple goal scorers? I’m a tad stumped here.

    I can recall the old VFL. I remember a wet, wintry R12 in 1977 when Carlton 3-13-31 beat Geelong 2-12-24. No multiple goal scorers then, but i’m stumped trying to recall similar performance since.

    Anyone have an answer?


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