WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.6 5.10 9.16 13.17 (95)
PORT ADELAIDE 1.0 4.4 7.6 8.9 (57)
The Western Bulldogs have paid tribute to club and AFL legend Charlie Sutton by defeating Port Adelaide by 38 points in comfortable fashion at Etihad Stadium.
The Dogs had some worrying signs in the first half, with errant kicking at goal allowing the Power to remain a threat, when they had plenty of chances to finish the game early in the half.
For many at the Western Bulldogs, it was clearly more than that. You could hear the emotion in the voices of players such as Robert Murphy, Luke Dahlhaus, Matthew Boyd and others that Sutton was so much more than simply a great of the Bulldogs who retired 50 years ago.
Understanding the influence one man can have over many is difficult, but knowing and hearing about the dedication Sutton showed by attending every training session possible, it is not a surprise the Bulldogs played like they did.
They were constantly first to the ball, worked hard in space and were just simply better than their opponents. Nine scoring shots in the first for only three goals let the Power off the hook, and midway through the second term it looked as though the misses would be forever regretted by the Dogs.
Near time on in the second quarter the lead was one point and the momentum was completely in the Powers’ favour.
But the Dogs lifted again,and they had to: for pride, for respect but probably most for Sutton.
They were lead by Murphy off the half back flank, (32 disposals at 94% efficiency) who was clearly best afield. He set up a lot of attacks with his ball use, poise and vision making things look easy. The brilliance of Murphy was highlighted in the third term as he also threw his body in the way of incoming Port Adelaide forwards to shut down Power attacks before sprinting away to create the counter attack.
He was not the only shining light in a wonderful display from a developing club, but he was certainly the brightest. Boyd once again accumulated his 34 disposals, Mitch Wallis had 29, with 15 contest – the most on the ground – whilst maintaining 83% efficiency, proving once more how much a steal he may end up being for the Bulldogs.
In fact, the 2010 draft may be seen as the best draft the Bulldogs have ever had once it’s all said and done. Whilst it is an early call, consider who they selected: Wallis, Tom Liberatore, Zepheniah Skinner and, possibly most importantly, Dahlhaus with a rookie pick.
When the game was tight in the third, it was Dahlhaus’ run, flair and enthusiasm for the contest that really got the Dogs going. Defensive pressure is key in today’s football, and Dahlhaus embodies it.
The Power will be disappointed, but the continued strong form of John McCarthy, Brad Ebert and Danyle Pearce should be enough to keep confidence levels high as they head into the bye week.
3) Robert Murphy
2) Matthew Boyd
1) Luke Dahlhaus
Western Bulldogs: Dickson 4, Cordy 2, Jones, Higgins, Roughead, Cooney, Giansiracusa, Dahlhaus, Griffen
Port Adelaide: Schulz 3, Brett Ebert 2, Moore, Broadbent, Brad Ebert
Western Bulldogs: Robert Murphy, Matthew Boyd, Luke Dahlhaus, Mitch Wallis, Daniel Cross, Ryan Griffin
Port Adelaide: Brad Ebert, Matthew Broadbent, Danyle Pearce, John McCarthy
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Port Adelaide: Jacob Surjan (concussion), Hamish Hartlett (hamstring), Paul Stewart (corked thigh), Jackson Trengove (dislocated finger)
Western Bulldogs: Tom Liberatore replaced in the fourth quarter by Clay Smith
Port Adelaide: Jacob Surjan replaced by Chad Wingard in the third quarter
Umpires: Nicholls, Findlay, Mollison
Official crowd: 16,036 at Etihad Stadium