The Western Bulldogs gave their season a timely boost with a comprehensive win against the Fremantle Dockers. The Dogs showed hunger for the contested ball and with their bigger bodies in the midfield, used their tall forwards to rip the game away from the Dockers. The home team was competitive for three quarters but ultimately were punished for the lack of connect between their midfielders and their inexperienced forward line.
The Dogs dominated much of the play in the first quarter but missed shots on goal early, which kept the Dockers in the game. The Dockers made the most of their initial forward entries, which were breakouts from defense after most of the play was in the Bulldogs' forward half. Although the Dockers were winning the hit outs the Bulldogs through Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae and Tom Liberatore had the edge in clearances.
Luke Ryan was strong for Fremantle in defense taking five first-quarter marks (catches) and gaining ten possessions. Sean Darcy and Jaeger O'Meara booted Fremantle's early goals before Bontempelli bobbed up to take a good mark in the goal square, to slot the Dogs' first goal. This was followed quickly by Aaron Scott who was rewarded with a free kick and goal after a strong tackle on Alex Pearce meters from goal. In this play it was the Dogs' midfield pressure that forced the ball into attack. The Dogs looked to play on when they took marks, trying to move the ball quickly to their tall forwards. Luke Jackson showed his agility close to goal, to kick the Dockers' third goal, before Aaron Naughton was infringed up forward and kicked truly with the free kick to boot the Dogs' third.
The Dockers increased their intensity around the ball in the second quarter but a handpass from Aaron Naughton released Caleb Daniel to goal early for the Dogs. The Dogs still dominated the contest and Bailey Williams and Naughton followed up with two more goals for the visitors. Williams cleverly dodged Caleb Serong to kick accurately from a tight angle and Naughton won a free kick with a strong one-hand tackle on Ethan Hughes. Then Dockers started to win more clearances; and quick ball movement saw Lachie Schultz kick a goal and Sam Sturt kick two as the momentum shifted to the Dockers. The Dogs re-established their ascendency in time-on with two quick goals. One to former Docker Rory Lobb and one to the diminutive Liberatore after he was caught high by a tackle from Andrew Brayshaw.
The third quarter was an even contest with both teams trading goals. Michael Frederick was busy in the Docker forward line and added two for the Dockers during the stanza. At the other end it was ruckman Tim English and small forward Cody Weightman scoring for the Bulldogs. Forward Jye Amiss had a rare touch to kick truly for the Dockers, before Williams replied for the Dogs after marking a miskick by Docker defender Luke Ryan. The Dogs finished the quarter by increasing their lead with a clever snapped goal by Adam Treloar, after he swooped on a miskick by young Bulldog forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagen.
The Dogs dominated in the final quarter. The Dockers were unable to contain Bontempelli who was strong with his clearances and took big marks up forward. The Bulldog big men found plenty of space, particularly after midfield turnovers left the Docker defenders out of position. If the ball did hit the ground the Bulldog small forwards were on it and were clinical with their disposal. The Bulldog domination of the midfield in the final quarter resulted in a regular flow of goals to Williams, Treloar, Bontempelli, Naughton and Lachlan McNeil, who all scored one each for the quarter. A rare Docker attack saw Michael Walters mark and kick truly at the end of the quarter, but by then the game safely in the Bulldogs' hands.
The Dockers now face a very difficult few weeks starting with the Brisbane Lions in Brisbane. If they cannot rectify the disconnect between their midfielders and their young forwards, it will be a while before they win another game. The Dogs, with their experienced midfielders and tall forwards should account for the Hawthorn Hawks at Marvel Stadium. The season is starting to look brighter for the Western Bulldogs.
Scores Fremantle Dockers: 3.1 6.2 9.6 10.9 (69) Western Bulldogs: 3.7 8.9 12.11 17.16 (118) Best Fremantle Dockers: Serong, Ryan, Darcy, Brayshaw, Young Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Treloar, Macrae, Williams, English
Article last changed on Saturday, April 22, 2023 - 8:44 AM EDT