Round 22 – Western Bulldogs v Port Adelaide: Not the Best First Date


Eureka Stadium has become the 46th AFL ground, with Port Adelaide controlling most of the game against the Western Bulldogs to win by seventeen points and strengthen their top four chances, while effectively ending the Bulldog’s finals hopes.


I moved to Ballarat recently, and was impressed to find the entire city was excited for the game. There were Bulldogs flags all over the place, and we got a card in our mailbox advertising a festival of footy, with the game being shown live on a big screen at the Ballarat Showgrounds.


My plan was to attend that, until it turned out that my uncle had bought two tickets and couldn’t go. He offered them to us, leaving my father to take me to the game. But then my grandfather, the person I regularly go to the football with, returned from a holiday, meaning he could take me. So Dad drove us to the outside of the stadium, we jumped out of the car, and walked to the ground, getting there at 12.45.


We spent the first half hour we were there sitting on the ground getting a wet bum, reading the Record, and enjoying the pretty good songs the PA guy played. (They also played this at quarter time and this at half time.)


At about 1.15, there was a grand ceremony to celebrate the AFL’s first game. Half a dozen state MPs and AFL administrators stood on the oval while Peter Gordon made a speech, and then fireworks were set off (they really lack something during the day) and the crowd cheered, waiting for the game to begin.


The game started well for the Bulldogs, with Bailey Dale slotting the first goal on the run. The only problem was that the Dogs weren’t making the most of their opportunities, and only led by two goals at the ten minute mark. The Power were then able to come back into the game by being on top for the rest of the term, powered by Paddy Ryder, who kicked both goals and dominated the ruck contest. The quarter ended with a Travis Cloke(!) goal the only thing keeping the Bulldogs in the lead.


The second quarter was similar to the first, with Port Adelaide having heaps of the ball but not quite doing enough with it. Port took a lead, but Cloke and Dale each kicked a goal near the end of the half to keep the Bulldogs a goal in front at the break. The Dogs were lucky to be at that stage, though.


The third quarter was effectively a carbon copy of the second, with three goals to each team despite Port being on top throughout. There were, however, four notable events:

  • Jason Johannisen kicking his fourth behind for the day.
  • Hamish Hartlett cleaning up Razor Ray Chamberlain in a contest. No charges were laid.
  • Tom Jonas taking out Luke Dahlhaus off the ball. Another $1500 fine?
  • Lachie Hunter scoring a goal after a review, which led to more excitement than any other I’ve seen – if you know the sound when you’re putting in Wii Sports, this was that.

At the start of the final quarter, everyone at the stadium was on edge. Ballarat had had a pretty good first game, and either team could still win the game. Goals to Tom Liberatore and Dale, his fourth, meant that the Dogs had a golden opportunity to run with the match.


That opportunity was not taken, as Port Adelaide saved the most dominant patch of the match for the end. And who else should kickstart it but Charlie Dixon? The dominant ruckman kicked two goals in three minutes to even up the scores, and continued to provide lift in the engine, with Chad Wingard kicking his second goal to take the lead, and Robbie Gray his second to end the match, and most likely the season, for the Dogs. Jared Polec scored last to put the icing on the cake.


The Bulldogs trudged off with their thoughts devoted to the finals permutations* and where they’d gone wrong for the game. Marcus Bontempelli (twelve touches) had had a quiet game, Port Adelaide had taken plenty more marks, and the kicking efficiency was way off. With Friday possibly the last game for Bob Murphy and Matthew Boyd, the Dogs will be hoping that Cinderella stories happen twice.


W Bulldogs     3.3     6.5     9.11     11.13 (79)
Pt Adelaide     2.2     5.5     8.10     14.12 (96)


W Bulldogs: Dale 4, Cloke 2, Hunter 2, Dunkley, Liberatore, Suckling
Pt Adelaide: Dixon 4, R Gray 2, Ryder 2, Wingard 2, Boak, S Gray, Polec, Wines

W Bulldogs: Stringer (hamstring)
Pt Adelaide: Houston (shoulder)

3 votes: Charlie Dixon (Pt Adelaide)
2 votes: Bailey Dale (W Bulldogs)
1 vote: Paddy Ryder (Pt Adelaide)

*Because I care, I’ve worked it out for you all: if Melbourne beats Brisbane today (they did), and percentages stay the same, we need to beat Hawthorn and for Essendon, West Coast, and probably St Kilda to lose.


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

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