Fresh off a first-up win against the West Coast Eagles, a young Western Bulldogs outfit was expected to find life tougher against Richmond on their home turf at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The Tigers, expected to challenge for a Top Eight spot in 2015, had plenty at stake after an unconvincing Round One win over a weakened Carlton outfit. Kane Lambert was the second Tiger debutant in as many weeks, with star midfielder Brett Deledio missing through suspension and small forward Shane Edwards a late withdrawal through injury.
Mitch Honeychurch scored the first goal and point of the match for the Bulldogs before Ben Griffiths replied for the Tigers. Mitch Wallis and young gun Marcus Bontempelli were giving the Tigers trouble early with their fast run into the forward 50 meter area. Richmond had plenty of the ball but lacked system going forward, bombing the ball into a sea of Bulldog defenders who were happy to mop up the spilling ball and run it out of defense. At quarter time the Western Bulldogs led by eight points with their more efficient use of the ball proving the difference between the two teams.
In the second quarter fans saw much of the same game play with the Tigers missing some gettable opportunities despite some excellent midfield work by Dustin Martin. Bontempelli continued to run riot and some sweet finishing by Jake Stringer saw the Bulldogs lead extend to 14 points at the half.
A quiet Jack Riewoldt started to exert some influence in the third quarter but Richmond continued to waste numerous attacking moves. By contrast, the Bulldogs had a spearhead in Tory Dickson who kept the scoreboard ticking over while key Tiger defender Alex Rance was doing a sensational job keeping high-priced youngster Tom Boyd to a handful of possessions. When Stringer and Jarrad Grant converted late goals for the Bulldogs they had stretched their lead to a comfortable 29 points at the final break and the Tigers seem bereft of a plan to challenge the visitors.
Richmond found a way through the Bulldog defense early in the final quarter with a goal through the unlikely source of Chris Newman, before a strong mark to Riewoldt gave the Tigers back-to-back goals to give their supporters some hope of a stirring comeback. As they had all day however, the Bulldogs retained control of the game with Dixon once again kicking truly to stem the Tiger tide. Both teams traded blows but in spite of the valiant effort of skipper Trent Cotchin the Tigers were just not good enough to take the points from an impressive young Bulldog outfit.
The likes of Bontempelli, Wallis and Jack Macrae have given the Bulldogs some excellent drive combined with the class of Luke Dalhaus and some solid forward targets in Dixon and Boyd, despite his quiet day at the hands of Rance. With an impressive 2-0 start to the season, teams will be starting to take notice of the Bulldogs as one of the AFL’s up and coming teams. They have the toughest of tasks in Round Three, facing reigning Premiers Hawthorn who are coming off a surprise loss to Essendon, who won the game in the last twenty seconds of play.
For Richmond, the stakes become higher with a trip to face the Brisbane Lions up north next week. Coach Damien Hardwick will have his fingers crossed that both Deledio and Edwards can recover from their calf injuries to inject some scoring punch into their lineup.
Scoreboard Richmond: 2.3 3.6 6.8 9.12 (66) Western Bulldogs: 3.5 5.8 10.13 12.13 (85) Best Players Richmond: Rance, Martin, Cotchin, Miles, McIntosh Western Bulldogs: Dickson, Wallis, Bontempelli, Macrae, Talia, M.Boyd
Article last changed on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - 7:51 PM EDT