Round 21 – Western Bulldogs v GWS: Just how good are the young guns?


Western Bulldogs v GWS Giants

7.50 p.m. 11th August

Etihad Stadium


In the distant past, horse trainer John Hawkes expressed cynicism about the tendency of casual observers of the race track to prematurely label horses as champions. He finally, almost reluctantly conceded that the big O, Octagonal, merited the appellation.


Football fans are also susceptible to this rush to judgment. I attended last Friday night’s match when the Giants put the Bulldogs to the sword. In the handful of times when I’ve watched GWS play, I’ve developed an admiration for their mids. It’s early days in their development, but I’m prepared to risk whispering that Whitfield, Coniglio, and especially in my view, Shiel have the spark of genius, evident in their ball-getting and especially in their disposal.


A wise man once said “Talent does what it can, genius does what it must.” Watching the second half of this match drew this observation to my mind, as the Giants swamped the Bulldogs. The Dogs had scrapped bravely to be within a few points at the long interval. Thereafter they managed just 1 goal 8, while the Western Sydney interlopers ran in 9 goals 4.


Jonathan Patton, the formidable key forward for the Giants, had a first quarter in which the ball followed him around. He registered the opening three goals for the visitors. While his impact on the scoreboard was not significant for the rest of the night, his presence created opportunities for several  shorter teammates who contributed the goals. Tory Dickson, who I consider the Bulldogs’ most reliable kick for goal, opened his team’s account from a free, but when Matt de Boer added another for the Giants, the margin had grown to an ominous 20 points. The Dogs scrapped two late goals – Dalhaus and Redpath – to get back in touch.


Coniglio extended the lead with the opening goal of the 2nd quarter, when he intercepted Young’s clearance attempt. However, the next fifteen minutes were the Bulldogs’ best for the match. They dominated clearances, inside 50s and general play as well as scoring. However, inaccuracy meant that they failed to adequately capitalise on this period of ascendancy; while the Giants went scoreless, the home team added two goals four. Bailey Dale converted from Jake Stringer’s free (interference from Simpson) and to the delight of most in attendance (and I dare say the gentleman player himself), Bob Murphy brilliantly eluded his former teammate, Callan Ward, and charged goalwards to bring the Dogs within a point. Two minors later, the Bulldogs were in front, but that brief lead was soon extinguished when boo-boy Toby Greene marked and kicked a goal from beyond the 50 metre arc. Ward added another after he intercepted a chain of Bulldog handpasses in their defensive 50. A minute later, Ward found himself in the back pocket attempting a desperation clearing kick, which Travis Cloke brilliantly intercepted and the ex-Magpie completed the assignment with an accurate left foot kick for goal – the final score for the half leaving the Giants four points to the good. The Dogs scored just 3.6 for the quarter which was poor reward for an astonishing 22-4 dominance in inside fifties. The Giants produced an efficient return of three straight goals.


The Bulldogs’ inaccuracy (prior and continuing) was punished in the 3rd term. De Boer scored the opening goal after the Giants progressed the length of the ground, with Williams providing a pin-point centring pass to the former Docker. Barely a minute later, Josh Kelly intercept marked another clearance attempt by Young and goaled. The controversial foot in mouth – Greene’s foot and Dalhaus mouth – incident occurred moments later. Greene seems to thrive on his reputation, since he had been a constructive contributor while being booed every time he went near the ball even prior to this encounter; his reaction this time was to goal after marking over the unfortunate Young who was enduring a nightmare match. Meanwhile the Bulldogs were adding to their infuriating run of behinds, 0.5 for the quarter. To pour salt in their wounds, the Giants then added three late quarter goals, from Whitfield, Lobb and Kelly, to put the game well beyond the Dogs’ reach.


The final quarter was anti-climatic, with the game petering out to an inevitable decisive victory. GWS added another three goals from Hopper, Whitfield and Patton (his fourth which meant he had topped and tailed the goals for the match). Dickson scored the Bulldogs’ only 2nd half goal well into added time in the quarter, as his team also added a further three behinds. The post quarter time scoring was 4.14 to the Dogs, against 12.4 to the Giants.


The Dogs’ 48 point loss seemed inexplicable when they won the inside 50 count 65-34. While kicking efficiency offered some explanation, the two teams’ accuracy/inaccuracy reflected the Giants’ far more systematic approach as they went forward. GWS certainly enhanced their reputation and those who hadn’t previously accepted them as a serious flag contender, must now reconsider. The Dogs have given themselves a huge task to even feature in September.


The Giants’ midfielders Shiel, Coniglio and Whitfield were outstanding, while Kelly, Greene and Ward were also prominent.  For the Dogs, Bontempelli, Hunter, Dunkley and Murphy plugged away but most of the team had varying degrees of a dirty night.


WESTERN BULLDOGS             3.1   6.7   6.12   7.15 (57)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY  4.5   7.5  13.8  16.9 (105)

Western Bulldogs:
Dickson 2, Dahlhaus, Redpath, Dale, Murphy, Cloke
Greater Western Sydney: Patton 4, De Boer 2, Kelly 2, Greene 2, Whitfield 2, Coniglio, Ward, Hopper, Lobb

Western Bulldogs:
Bontempelli, Hunter, McLean, Suckling
Greater Western Sydney: Coniglio, Shiel, Williams, Kelly, Patton, Whitfield

Western Bulldogs:
Luke Dahlhaus (face)
Greater Western Sydney: Zac Williams (cut above eye)

Reports: Toby Greene (rough conduct)

Umpires: Margetts, Schmitt, Mollison

Official crowd: 30,672 at Etihad Stadium

Malarkey Medal Votes:

  1. Shiel (GWS) 2. Coniglio (GWS)   1. Whitfield (GWS)


  1. Neil Anderson says

    The whole premiership backline missing didn’t help the Dogs. Half the premiership forward line available only didn’t help either, but I agree it was woeful kicking for goal.
    In your injury list you have noted simply Dahlhaus ( face). I wish it was that simple.
    Redpath reported for pushing Davis and got three weeks. I note on the news that coaches from other clubs, except GWS, are backing an enquiry into the severity of that penalty to be looked at, at the end of the year. Of course GWS were dominant and easily won. But rather than marvel at their midfield that will probably get them into a grand-final, they were playing a depleted Bulldog outfit, albeit a team that was very inaccurate.

  2. Peter Fuller says

    Thanks Neil for your characteristically fair rejoinder, and the important context which I’d omitted. I certainly should have acknowledged the Dogs’ injury toll, which was undoubtedly an important influence on the outcome. I agree with your implicit criticism of the MRP, as the comparison between the Greene and Redpath penalties is truly bizarre.

  3. Neil Anderson says

    You are the fair and generous one Peter. After I’d written my comments I realized I’d officially joined the “Grumpy Old Man’s Club'” . I think I’m narky about the injuries to the Bulldogs more than being beaten by our new rivals GWS, but it’s coming across as a sore loser. If we can win on Saturday I’ll be in a better frame of mind.

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