WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.3 2.6 6.12 9.18 (72)
GOLD COAST 1.5 2.9 3.10 4.10 (34)
The Western Bulldogs have continued their resurgence up the AFL ladder in the Northern Territory last night, comfortably accounting for the Gold Coast Suns by 38 points in a contest that will not be remembered for the skills on display.
Several players were plagued with ball handling issues, which allowed the class difference between the two sides to become a gulf, and although the Bulldogs trailed at half time, the low scoring nature of the game meant that once they began to take advantage of opportunities they were always going to establish a match winning lead.
Such was the case as the second half saw the Doggies kick seven goals to two – enough to seal their fourth victory in five matches.
It was a bizarre standard of play however, with conditions appearing perfect – if a little warm – with the temperature clocking in at 27 degrees on a dry night.
However, this meant the ground was in need of watering before the game in order to soften the playing surface, leading to passages of play continually filled with skill errors. These errors forced the game to become much more congested and contested, resulting in a low scoring slog.
The conditions were always going to favour the classier Bulldogs’ midfield trio of Matthew Boyd (29 disposals), Ryan Griffin (26) and Daniel Cross (26), who all finished in the top four contested ball winners on the ground.
The opening stanzas of the contest provided some completely unexpected match ups – Suns skipper Gary Ablett starting off the half back line – and whilst he was prominent, gathering 29 disposals, it left the Suns midfield and attack devoid of scoring options.
As a result the Dogs’ back six, in particular Brian Lake and Ryan Hargrave, were able to easily set up and negate any attacks managed by the Suns, but the forward half failed to take advantage of the situation leaving the scoreboard looking rather light.
The third term began in the same fashion as the first half, before Daniel Giansiracusa broke the dour struggle with a classy snap, and suddenly the Dogs rediscovered their goal kicking form. Luke Dahlhaus, Ayce Cordy and Jarrad Grant kicked truly to finish the quarter and the match was out of Gold Coast’s reach.
Western Bulldogs: Liberatore, Jones, Giansiracusa, Dahlhaus, Cordy, Grant, Higgins, Picken, Skinner
Gold Coast: Lynch, Bennell, Prestia, Smith
Western Bulldogs: Boyd, Griffin, Lake, Cross, Wallis, Liberatore
Gold Coast: Stanley, Ablett, Caddy, Horsley, Iles, Shaw, Prestia
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Gold Coast: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Zephaniah Skinner replaced Ayce Cordy at three-quarter-time.
Gold Coast: Alex Sexton replaced Seb Tape in the third quarter.
Umpires: Hay, Wenn, Ryan, Fleer
Official crowd: 8724 at TIO Stadium.