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The Dockers had produced abysmal football in the first two rounds of the season and it was expected that the ferocious Bulldogs would easily account for the Dockers, who were sitting at the bottom of the ladder after folding to Port Adelaide the previous weekend. In a tumultuous week, the Dockers had swung the selection axe by chopping six senior players. It was the injection of youthful enthusiasm and a determination to run and pressure which blindsided the Dogs. The Dockers’ first goal came after two minutes of play courtesy of a searing kick from Brady Grey, who was playing his AFL fourth game. By the fourteen minute mark, Cam McCarthy, David Mundy and Hayden Crozier had each kicked a goal each. It took the stunned Dogs fifteen minutes to score their first point and it was not until the seventeenth minute that the Dogs’ Lachie Hunter kicked their first goal after the Dockers’ first gamer Harley Balic turned the ball over with poor midfield disposal.

McCarthy kicked another Docker goal within the first minute of the second quarter, but then Dogs settled and started to win clearances from stoppages, even though Aaron Sandilands was dominant in the ruck for the home team. The Dogs’ next score came via Easton Wood who took a good intercept mark (catch) and passed the ball to a lively Tom Liberatore, who delivered accurately to Hunter, who then kicked his third goal. Lin Jong was busy around the ground and along with Luke Dahlhaus inspired the Bulldogs to return to their high pressure strong tackling style of play. The Dogs’ forwards Toby Maclean and Marcus Bontempelli came to life with a goal each and by the main break the Dogs had crept to within seven points of the Dockers. The Bulldogs continued to apply the pressure in the third quarter with quick goals to Jake Stringer and Jason Johannisen. At that point, four of the five goals scored by the Dogs were a direct result of Docker players mishandling the ball and causing turnovers. The Dockers then steadied with captain Nat Fyfe creating a goal for Shane Kersten. The young Dockers stepped up their running game and applied pressure on the ball carriers, employing the Bulldog tactics which famously won the Dogs the 2016 premiership. The pressure finally got to Bulldog defender, Marcus Adams, who imitated the Dockers of the previous week and mis-kicked across the goal mouth to gift a mark and goal to Docker forward Michael Walters. The Bulldogs’ captain Robert Murphy responded immediately by kicking his team’s sixth goal at the fourteen minute mark. For the remainder of the quarter the visitors dominated the game. A virtual wall of players stationed across the centerline, aided by strong chasing by the Bulldog forwards, prevented any further Docker attacks. By three-quarter time the dogs were clearly in command and it appeared that the powerful Bulldogs would show the home team why they were the top dogs.

The Dockers though were to have none of this. The young players reignited their running game and pressured the Bulldog midfielders into errors. Steven Hill, Lachie Neale, Nat Fyfe, David Mundy and Bradley Hill capitalized on the younger teammates’ work and ripped through the Bulldog midfield. The Dockers piled on four goals in fifteen minutes, leaving the tiring Dogs in their wake. The Dockers then slowed the play by playing possession football to frustrate and chance of the Bulldogs fighting back. The ultimate insult for the Dogs came after their reliable forward, Easton Wood, dropped back into defense to take a great mark and then kicked the ball directly to Docker veteran, David Mundy, who booted the Dockers’ thirteenth and final goal.

Next week the Bulldogs will meet North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium and make history by playing in the first game to be held on a Good Friday. The Dockers travel to the MCG to take on the Melbourne Demons. Only the bravest of pundits would confidently predict the winners of those two games. The competition is well and truly alive.


Fremantle Dockers 4.4  6.7  8.10  13.11 (89)
Western Bulldogs  1.3  5.6  10.12 10.13 (73)


Fremantle Dockers: S. Hill, Fyfe, Neale, Mundy, B. Hill
Western Bulldogs:  Dahlhaus, Johannisen, Liberatore, Hunter, Suckling

Article last changed on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 9:37 PM EDT

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