The Western Bulldogs survived early pressure from the Fremantle Dockers to overcome their young opponents and jump back into the top eight, at the expense of the Melbourne Demons. The Dogs had to beat the Dockers to make the finals and were the more desperate team as the game progressed. The Dockers' cause was not helped with the late withdrawal of their leading scorers, Matthew Taberner and Michael Walters due to injury. The Dockers were already missing four of their first-choice defenders, so a win against the desperate dogs was always against the odds.
So, who wins it all? In what looks to be the most open finals series for some time, you could mount a solid argument for six teams that could potentially take out the 2016 premiership. Read on for my take on who can win the Aussie rules championship in 2016 and why – and my pick for the two teams that will meet in the biggest AFL match of the year on October 1st.
I’ll start in reverse order of regular season finish, from eighth to top spot.
Despite an almighty scare against the lowly ranked Tigers, the Western Bulldogs ran out 10 point winners in a stirring contest at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night. Fielding a young team with one eye firmly on the future, the Tigers almost pulled off a massive upset as they led deep into the final quarter. In the end it was the class of the enigmatic Jake Stringer and young gun Marcus Bontempelli that helped the Bulldogs to victory and kept their top-four hopes alive.
The Greater Western Sydney Giants continue to send shivers up the collective spine of every other team in the AFL. Despite losing two talented defenders early in their Sunday contest against the Western Bulldogs, the Giants rolled to their sixth win in a row, outlasting a plucky Bulldog outfit by 25 points at Spotless Stadium. GWS now sits in third on the AFL ladder in a 3 way log-jam at 7-2 for the year.
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.