NORTH MELBOURNE – 3.1 – 6.5 – 11.8 – 12.11 (83)
WESTERN BULLDOGS – 3.3 – 9.6 – 14.8 – 15.11 (101)
Domination of the contested ball has resulted in the Western Bulldogs capturing a critical win over a hapless North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium. North coach Brad Scott publicly lamented his players’ efforts in a game that saw the Dogs win a whopping 55 more contested possessions than their opponents.
The first quarter proved to be relatively even on the scoreboard, however the early signs suggested that North were going to have to lift their intensity in the midfield if they were to match the desperate Bulldogs’ ball winners.
Matthew Boyd was inspirational and played like a man possessed. His hard running and his aggressive inside manner was an example that not a single Kangaroo midfielder was able to replicate, as he slogged his way to a match-winning 44 disposal performance.
A six-goal to three second quarter was reward for the Bulldogs’ dominance in the middle, and just as importantly saw their forwards start to capitalise on the good work further afield.
Long, penetrating kicks to one-on-one contests gave mid-sized forwards Shaun Higgins, Daniel Giansiracusa and mature-age recruit Tory Dickson opportunities, and they did not disappoint.
In just his third game, 24-year-old Dickson was the best forward for the day with four goals and eight tackles, and often made something happen when well out of position.
The Bulldogs have converted inside 50 opportunities into goals less than any other side in the competition this year, and Dickson’s smart footy brain and clean finishing was a timely contribution.
At the other end, the resurgence of Brian Lake continued with an intriguing battle with Drew Petrie. Whilst Petrie finished with three goals and gallantly provided a target for the majority of the day, Lake’s ability to back himself in the air and his rebound capabilities were on full display as he gathered 26 well-earned possessions.
However, the story of the day was the collective dominance between the arcs by the Western Bulldogs. Liam Anthony was hard-working and was the Kangaroo’s best with 27 possessions. After that, the ball winning dropped off dramatically.
The two Bulldog father-son selections in Mitchell Wallis (28 possessions), and Thomas Liberatore (22) were frenetic in the clinches and kept the ball moving their way with slick hands all day.
Luke Dahlhaus was creative and broke the lines as usual with 23 disposals, and Ryan Griffen was tireless on his way to a 31-disposal performance.
The last quarter saw the Bulldogs close up play and extinguish any hope North had of pinching a victory, conceding just the one goal for the term. This result sees the Western Bulldogs move level with North Melbourne on the ladder with three wins apiece, with a lot of work and a bit of luck to come if either side is to break into the final eight.
3 – Boyd (WB)
2 – Griffen (WB)
1 – Dickson (WB)
North Melbourne: Thomas 3, Petrie 3, Anthony 2, Cunnington, Harper, Adams, Edwards
Western Bulldogs: Dickson 4, Giansiracusa 3, Higgins 2, Sherman 2, Cordy, Wallis, Cross, Murphy
North Melbourne: Thompson, Swallow, Anthony, Wells
Western Bulldogs: Lake, Griffen, Boyd, Dickson, Higgins, Liberatore, Hargrave
North Melbourne: Hamish McIntosh (knee)
Western Bulldogs: Adam Cooney replaced in the selected side by Clay Smith
North Melbourne: Brad McKenzie replaced Hamish McIntosh at three-quarter-time
Western Bulldogs: Clay Smith replaced Jordan Roughead in the last quarter
Umpires: Nicholls, Wenn, Jennings
Official crowd: 20,885 at Etihad Stadium