CHOOSE your hero: Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, Bailey Williams, Aaron Naughton or Adam Treloar.
All and many more Western Bulldogs stood out in a vibrant finals in which the Dogs came down from 14 points to beat the West Coast by seven points at Marvel Stadium.
In the best game of 2021 so far – and one that will be tough to beat for the remainder of the season – the Bulldogs came from behind to take the 14.16 (100) to 14.9 (93) win on Sunday .
DOGS v EAGLES Full game coverage and statistics
The Eagles seemed poised to take on the win when the unlikely heroine Jamaine Jones scored her third goal in three minutes, building the Eagles by five points. But Macrae soon spotted Naughton cleverly scooping his second goal of last season to bring the dogs one point back into the lead.
The Eagles had more chances but their last chance was missed when aspiring defender Williams won a tackle on the half-back flank that resulted in Bontempelli’s calm sealer and his third goal of a big outing.
Macrae finished the game with 40 exits and nine clears, while Treloar rose to the central place with a more significant time in the final quarter with nine exits.
The dogs had kept control of the game in the first half but that was turned on its head by West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui, who put together an exceptional second half. The tall Australian man finished the race with 40 hits (eight of which in the third quarter alone) and eleven clearances in a dominant performance that was vital to the Eagles.
‘MONUMENTAL’ Bevo praises Dogs’ victory
Dom Sheed (26 departures, 11 clears) and Tim Kelly (29) were the beneficiaries of Naitanui’s work, helping the Eagles play more efficiently than the Dogs, thanks in part to a large, talented, and productive line of strikers with Josh Kennedy () . four goals), Jack Darling (three) and Oscar Allen (two) in different phases.
But the dogs kept finding answers. They owe a lot for this.
Ryan’s (non-) brand of the year
It won’t be his only attempt, but West Coast Weapon Liam Ryan missed a bid for the Brand of the Year when his giant fly didn’t get a grade in the first quarter. Ryan took the take off within 50 and pulled the ball in on his chest and controlled it to the ground where it popped out late. Because the umpires’ views were obstructed, they were not paid a grade, and Ryan pleaded with officials on his case during the quarter break. Electrifying in the first season, the Premier League forward scored a brilliant goal as he turned opponent Ryan Gardner upside down on the goal line and cleverly snapped it. He flew in his third term for another major attack but failed to complete the jump.
Among the many big names in the Bulldog midfield, Tom Liberatore often sits comfortably out of the spotlight. In his 150th game, the 2016 premier was once again crucial to his team’s dominance in this part of the site. The father-son weapon collected 26 disposals and nine approvals. Liberatore has suffered a number of significant setbacks in his 10-year career with the Dogs, including knee reconstructions where he missed nearly two full seasons (2015 and 2018) but made an excellent job of making his milestone match.
Is Macrae Still Underrated?
It seems odd to say that an all-Australian midfielder who has averaged 27 departures in a career of 161 games can be underestimated. But the point is, during so much discussion of the Bulldogs bulging midfield, Macrae rarely appears in the first two names mentioned. It should be, and Sunday showed again why. The ball magnet with his left foot was excellent throughout the competition, driving the dogs forward and adding eight inside 50s to his strong possession record. He made a great start to the season.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.3 6.10 9.12 14.16 (100)
WEST COAST 3.2 6.3 12.6 14.9 (93)
Western bulldogs: Bruce 3, Bontempelli 3, Naughton 3, Daniel, Dunkley, English, Smith Vandermeer
West Coast: Kennedy 4, Darling 3, Jones 3, Allen 2, Ryan 2
Western bulldogs: Bontempelli, Macrae, Daniel, Dunkley, Treloar, Naughton
West Coast: Naitanui, Sheed, Kelly, Kennedy, Hurn, Darling
Western bulldogs: zero
West Coast: Allen (shoulder), Naitanui (eye)
Western bulldogs: Johannisen (unused)
West Coast: Ah Chee (unused)