Round 6 – Western Bulldogs v Carlton: The Lip Sealer

Western Bulldogs v Carlton

7:50PM, Friday April 27

Docklands Stadium, Melbourne



From Alex’s Blog Site – Bulldogs Centre


It was a game indicative of 16th vs 18th all throughout. It was a game that wasn’t short of poor decision-making, horrific disposal and bone-headed plays. Still, a pretty decent crowd of 33,915 people attended a scrappy affair between the Western Bulldogs and the Carlton Blues.


In the end, whether fellow Bulldogs supporters are satisfied with the result or not, a win is a win, and the Western Bulldogs have gathered their second of the season, defeating Carlton by 21 points in an ugly affair at Etihad Stadium. It also creates a bit of unwanted history for the Blues, as they now have gone six losses from six starts in 2018 – The first time in the history of this proud football club that they have done so. In 122 years since the inception of the VFL/AFL.


The Dogs lead at every break and virtually took the lead from the get-go. A couple of impressive Tom Boyd grabs set the pace early, his first one taken in a pack mark at full pace. He kicked one goal from a tight angle for the Dogs’ first. The Blues made a fist of things early in the first quarter, but from the moment Jack Macrae kicked his first and only goal for the day, the Bulldogs never relinquished the lead.


Though the Bulldogs were dominant in portions of the contest, the Blues had their moments as well. They looked alright rebounding off half-back and despite missing captain Marc Murphy, All-Australian Sam Docherty and number one ruckman Matthew Kreuzer, the Blues looked competitive in spurts. After three unanswered Bulldogs’ goals in the opening term put them ahead by 16 points, Carlton pressed and made the margin as little as two points early in the second term, before the Dogs once again kicked clear with another three unanswered goals to take a 23-point lead into half time.


After many had written the Blues off during the half-time interval, they found themselves still in striking distance in the second half. The likes of young promising stars such as Zac Fisher, Harry McKay and Patrick Cripps were doing what they could to drag their side back into the contest, however the Bulldogs’ margin extended to just a point by the final change.


They continued to control possession of the footy and could’ve possibly put the fork in this contest by three quarter time. Tom Boyd hit the post from straight in front, although just inside the 50-metre arc. Marcus Bontempelli missed two gimme goals that superstars have to kick and more errors in the defensive half allowed a couple of looks at goal for the Blues in what I can only describe as absolutely frustrating.


One particular play that saw Matt Suckling bullet a footy between the legs of sixth-gamer Aaron Naughton and ended in a soccer-off-the-ground style goal from ruckman Andrew Phillips would’ve been enough to throw your remote on the TV, it was that horrible of a turnover. But it didn’t stop there. There were plenty of high up-and-under balls everywhere on the ground, Bulldogs’ midfielder Lin Jong copped a flat-out ball to the face, too many short 15-20 metre kicks went everywhere and anywhere, miscommunication from Carlton defenders and Billy Gowers’ decision to play on from a mark inside 50 and ignore what was the figure of Sam Rowe coming towards him full-steam-ahead and allowing him to tackle summed up how awful and irritating this game was at times.


The game did pick up in the final quarter and there was a sense of excitement that looked as if Carlton were going to storm home and clinch an unlikely first win of the season. Whilst I’ll admit what both teams severely lacked in skill, they made up for in endeavour. After a second goal from Billy Gowers put the Dogs 30 points ahead early in the last, it seemed as if the Bulldogs would notch their second win of the season.


The Blues had different plans however. Charlie Curnow gave an instant reply to drag it down to 24 again, before they started ruing missed opportunities. Zac Fisher missed a crucial snap before Jack Silvagni put a leg on to the ball and trickled through to make it 18 points. Curnow again had two chances to reduce the margin even further.


The first chance was 20 metres out, slight angle and he absolutely butchered it with his set shot coming off the side of the boot. The second chance saw him from a much tighter angle, as a dribble kick attempt skidded into the goal post. Even if one of those two goals had been kicked, it could’ve completely changed the dynamic of the contest.


The Dogs had their chances too. Jason Johannisen missed everything from a gettable set shot, whilst misses to Toby McLean and Bailey Dale missed much harder shots on goal. But they iced the contest when Johannisen intercepted a possession in the middle of the ground with such blistering pace and then coolly delivered it inside 50 to young Patrick Lipinski. With just three games of AFL experience under his belt, he went back and delivered the final blow with an ice cool kick for his third major of the evening.


The Dogs had no injuries for a change, considering that this side always find themselves on the wrong side of the ledger with injuries, but the smallest player in the league in Caleb Daniel did break his helmet during the third quarter which is a bit of a crucial blow to his look – it did look very strange to see him out there in the final quarter with no headgear on.


It’s fascinating that the Bulldogs had the youngest list of the two, yet they managed to get the four points here. Five of their 22 on Friday night had not even played 10 games of AFL footy, in comparison to Carlton’s three. So even though fundamentally, this team is not great, there is still so much promise to them going forward and I can only hope the young boys build on this performance.


We were treated to a battle of some of the game’s brightest AFL stars. Marcus Bontempelli and Patrick Cripps. Both of these young men were taken in the 2013 AFL Draft and on Friday night, led their respective clubs with fantastic performances in the middle. Who got the points on this night?


Bontempelli racked up 30 disposals, seven tackles, seven inside 50s, five marks and four clearances. His night could’ve been complete if he had converted those two easy misses into set shots. Cripps showcased how dominant he was in congestion with 32 disposals – 24 of those being contested, along with 12 clearances and nine tackles. I would say the Bont’s class all across the ground has him just over Cripps at this stage.


Other Bulldogs that stood out included regular members of the 22. Jack Macrae (32 disposals, nine tackles, seven marks and a goal), and the returning Lachie Hunter (29 disposals, seven marks and four rebound 50s) looked very good once again, whilst the games of Mitch Wallis and Toby McLean I thought were very good, Wallis had 21 disposals, six tackles, four clearances, four marks and a goal and McLean had 21 disposals, six tackles and a goal.


Patrick Lipinski – in just his third game, he showed how much promise he has at the top-level and he’s going to be exciting to watch in years to come. He had three goals, including a clutch fourth-quarter goal, as well as 15 disposals and three marks. Aaron Naughton (13 disposals and four marks) got himself heavily involved in defence and looks gradually better with every game, whilst Tom Boyd (13 disposals, six marks and 1.3) is playing with a level of confidence that is reminiscent of the 2016 Finals series – he’s really looking good in the past couple of weeks.


Whilst Cripps’ game is something to be admired, the Blues need more support for him if they are to go forward in the future. Zac Fisher (28 disposals, seven clearances and a goal) looks like he’ll be a very good player, whilst Sam Kerridge was also very solid for the Blues with 28 disposals, seven marks and six rebound 50s. They need some runners to complement the inside mids such as Cripps and Fisher. Andrew Phillips was dominant in the ruck with 48 hitouts and even managed a goal as well.


Marc Murphy and Kade Simpson won’t be around forever. Dale Thomas (27 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s) played perhaps one of his best games in Carlton colours, but likewise, he’s not going to be there either. Lochie O’Brien and Paddy Dow – who both weren’t very effective on Friday night – need to get more game time in them because there is potential in these kids.


Charlie Curnow (19 disposals, 11 marks, five inside 50s) despite kicking a horrendous 1.4, looked the most threatening forward all night. I thought former Bulldog Liam Jones was outstanding in terms of thwarting most of the Bulldogs’ efforts going inside 50, taking seven marks, numerous defensive spoils.


I can see them working well in tandem with Sam Rowe and Caleb Marchbank going forward, but they must work on their communication, because too many times, they jumped into each other going for the ball, and on occasion, it resulted in costly Bulldog goals.


The Bulldogs travel to Ballarat’s Mars Stadium next Saturday afternoon for the first time this season, as they look to make it two in a row against the Gold Coast Suns. This time last year, it would’ve been a dead certainty, but the Suns, who have shown signs of life under Stuart Dew this season, have proven at times this year that they can bring a style of footy that can win them games of footy.


As it stands, the Suns are currently 3-3 and they will be eyeing this game off as one that can keep them with an outside chance of staying on pace with the top eight. For the Bulldogs, they must use this game as a confidence booster, get somebody to teach them how to kick a damn set-shot and look forward to what should be an interesting challenge ahead.



Western Bulldogs    4.5    7.8    9.12    11.14.80
Carlton                         3.1    4.3    6.6      8.11.59


Western Bulldogs: Lipinski 3, Gowers 2, Wallis, Macrae, McLean, Boyd, Daniel, Dale
Carlton: Casboult 2, McKay, Fisher, Phillips, Wright, C. Curnow, Silvagni


Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Macrae, Hunter, McLean, Suckling
Carlton: Cripps, Fisher, Thomas, Phillips, Casboult


Alex Docherty’s Best

Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Macrae, Hunter, Wallis, Lipinski, Boyd, McLean
Carlton: Cripps, Fisher, Kerridge, Thomas, Phillips, C. Curnow


For more of Alex Docherty’s readings – opinions or match previews/reviews – go onto


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. John Butler says

    “It was a game that wasn’t short of poor decision-making, horrific disposal and bone-headed plays.”

    Not an unfair characterisation of much that transpired, Alex.

    I was a little less generous to Jones’ effort. By my calculation he cost us at least 4 goals through skill and decision making errors. But he did have his moments.

    Two young sides trying to find their way. I think people are underestimating how young the Doggies team is at present.


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