North Melbourne 0.3.4 0.6.8 1.9.13 1.11.18 (93)
Western Bulldogs 0.3.3 0.5.9 0.6.13 0.9.16 (70)
North Melbourne has fought off the Western Bulldogs at Eureka Stadium in Ballarat to end up victorious by 23 points.
The Kangaroos held a slight edge for the majority of the game, until a burst from Daniel Wells and Kieran Harper – the former with a supergoal and behind, the latter with two six-pointers – gave them a lead in the third quarter which was maintained through the last.
However, they did lead by 21 points halfway through the first quarter, until the Bulldogs, through Clay Smith in the middle and Tom Campbell up forward, reduced the deficit to a solitary behind at the first break.
Ryan Griffen’s brilliance in the second quarter – he had 14 disposals and two goals at half-time – went unconsolidated, as the Dogs missed important chances with 2.6 for the quarter. The Roos were also inaccurate but not to such an extent and so the margin was five at half-time.
Griffen was rested in the second half and his presence was missed, as the Roos kicked four goals to one in the third, with Wells making a quick statement after being rested in the first half on his return from the blood clot that nearly ended his life last year, while Liam Anthony found some of his brilliant form again, with 20 disposals and two goals.
Wells in particular had a phenomenal start – playing at half-forward, he hit the post from a set shot and followed up with a supergoal around an opponent, suggesting the silky midfielder is well and truly back.
Brian Lake also returned unscathed, with 15 disposals and six marks.
Todd Goldstein was the dominant ruckman around the ground with 27 hit-outs but Jordan Roughead showed promising signs, with 16 hit-outs of his own alongside 13 touches and a goal to get the Footscray faithful with high hopes of his future.
Luke Dahlhaus was also exciting, continually committing himself to the contest to be the leading ball-winner and tackler on the ground, putting pressure on the Roos through the middle.
Smith was almost as good, and looked at home in the centre, and Liberatore’s contested work was great to watch. The young Bulldogs brigade was on show and they didn’t fail to impress.
They were some of a few Dogs who won plenty of it, but North Melbourne used it with more effectiveness and class, both in the middle and in front of goal, to deserve the win.
North Melbourne: Anthony, Harper 2, Wells (1 supergoal), Adams, McIntosh, Thompson, Edwards, Campbell, Atley, Swallow
Western Bulldogs: Campbell 3, Griffen, Skinner 2, Roughead, Hill
North Melbourne: Anthony, Thompson, Wright, Ziebell, Harvey, Wells
Western Bulldogs: Dahlhaus, Griffen, Campbell, Smith
North Melbourne: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Umpires: Nicholls, Ryan, Hosking
Crowd: Approximately 8,000 at Eureka Stadium