Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Patersons Stadium, Perth
Always a threat when they travel to Perth, the Western Bulldogs suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the West Coast Eagles in front of 37,000 fanatical fans. Prior to this match, the Eagles’ form had been good with four wins while the 2010 Preliminary Finalists had a return to winning form against Richmond last week after a very patchy start to the season.
Josh Kennedy and his teammates turned on a champagne display of brilliance at Patersons Stadium, putting the Western Bulldogs to the sword in the first quarter of the game. The Eagles maintained their much vaunted forward press to perfection and most of the action was in their forward half. Kennedy kicked four goals and the lead could have been greater had his teammates hit easy opportunities in front of goal. There was nothing clean about the Bulldogs’ handling of the ball and they were always under pressure. It wasn’t until three minutes before the end of the first quarter that they showed a spark and back-to-back goals to Robert Murphy and Liam Jones steadied the ship. It was enough to give them some hope as the quarter ended, but they were 28 points behind and in unfamiliar territory.
Kennedy took a strong mark and kicked the first goal of the second quarter as things went from bad to worse for the visitors. Brennan Stack kicked a quick reply and when Jones kicked his second it looked like the Dogs were about to mount a challenge. A basic error by the Bulldogs when kicking in after a behind caused a penalty bounce down at the top of the Eagles’ goal square and Luke Shuey pounced to kick the next West Coast goal. Tom Liberatore snapped a goal from a stoppage for the Dogs to even the goal tally for the quarter. However the margin was still 31 points to the Eagles at half time.
There were opportunities for the home side to bury the opposition early in the second half, but Mark LeCras and Kennedy missed simple shots in front of goal. There was some spirit in the Bulldogs when Jarred Grant and Daniel Giansiracusa kicked the next two goals to put them within 22 points. Perhaps it was the Eagles’ memories of being on the wrong end of a hiding, or just a resurgence in their self-belief, but from that point on the Bulldogs were blitzed. It was party time as West Coast went to town and kicked the next seven goals. The Dogs failed the credibility test on their ability to be Finals contenders. Simon White summed it up perfectly in the Melbourne Age when he wrote, “The Dogs couldn’t give a yelp.” Justin Sherman kicked the only Bulldog goal in the third term but it was too little, too late. The Eagles had blown the game away with a 59 point margin as the siren ended the third quarter.
It didn’t get any better when the Bulldogs failed to score in the final term. Andrew Embley kicked the first goal on the outside of the boot from a pass by Darren Glass in the forward pocket. Glass had run all the way from fullback to play his part in the rout. The Bulldogs capitulated at this point and the Eagles kicked the last nine goals of the match to rub the Dogs' noses in the dirt.
Kennedy did the damage early and gave the Eagles the confidence to take the game on and over. The Western Bulldogs were disgraced in a one-sided contest, beaten so badly that club President David Smorgon felt moved to write a letter to the team’s fans and members apologizing for their lamentable performance. The Bulldogs are now adrift at the bottom end of the ladder while the Eagles are cementing their place in the Top Eight. Next week is the acid test when they play 2010 Premiers, Collingwood. This game will be the true indicator of whether the West Coast Eagles have come of age.
Source: The Melbourne Age, Simon White news story
Scoreboard West Coast: 6.5 9.10 16.15 26.19 (175) Western Bulldogs: 2.1 5.3 8.4 8.4 (52) Best West Coast: J Kennedy, L Shuey, Q Lynch, N Naitanui, D Cox Western Bulldogs: M Boyd, R Griffen, J Sherman, T Liberatore
Article last changed on Thursday, May 26, 2011 - 11:07 AM EDT