A brilliant display by Marcus Bontempelli has propelled the Western Bulldogs to an impressive 19-point win over Port Adelaide in a pulsating clash of premiership heavyweights at Adelaide Oval.
The match-up of the second-placed Dogs against the third-ranked Power lived up to the pre-game hype, the highly-touted opponents going toe-to-toe before the Dogs prevailed 15.6 (96) to 12.5 (77) on Saturday night.
Busy Bontempelli, who finished with 26 touches and two goals, set the tone early with 11 first-quarter possessions and a brilliant goal as the Dogs stormed to a 25-point lead at the first change.
But Ollie Wines, his side’s best on the night, helped turn the tables as Port’s vaunted midfield kicked into gear to put on a stunning five-goal blitz to open the second term, Hamish Hartlett’s long bomb a highlight as the home side slashed the margin to one point at the main break.
Aaron Naughton was front and centre as the Dogs regained the upper hand in the third quarter, the Bulldogs taking a 19-point lead into the final term.
GRAY CLEAN BOWLS TRELOAR
Robbie Gray kicked the opening goal of a frantic last quarter when his shot bounced through Adam Treloar’s legs in the goalsquare. Charlie Dixon had the crowd in full voice when he bobbed up with two goals, but Cody Weightman’s brilliant third goal, kicked over his head, and Naughton’s fourth sealed a memorable win.
WOOD CUT DOWN
The Dogs’ super start was soured by the loss of important defender Easton Wood with a hamstring injury. The former skipper flew for a spoil late in the first quarter and landed awkwardly on his left leg. With a resigned shake of his head, Wood donned a tracksuit top and was replaced by Hayden Crozier.
CLUREY COPS ONE HIGH
A week after he was stiff to miss out on the Showdown Medal for his job on Taylor Walker, in-form defender Tom Clurey’s fortunes took a turn for the worse. The star back man left the field in the second quarter with blood coming from his mouth after a head clash with Mitch Hannan and was replaced by Martin Frederick.
NAUGHTON TAKES FLIGHT
The Bulldogs boasted the most potent attack in the AFL after eight rounds and they found their bark after a quiet second quarter. Naughton took a huge mark over Tom Jonas and played on for his third goal, as the visitors slammed through four unanswered goals to snatch back the momentum.
LADHAMS IN FOR LYCETT
With first-choice ruckman Scott Lycett suspended for four games, Peter Ladhams played his 20th AFL match and his first since round four. The Dogs were missing Tim English and Stef Martin, making for a battle of the makeshift big men. Ladhams impressed with his mobility and outpointed Jordon Sweet, finishing with 18 possessions and 36 hit-outs.
POWER 2.1 8.1 9.4 12.5 77
BULLDOGS 6.2 8.2 12.5 15.6 96
PHELAN’S BEST POWER: Wines, Boak, Byrne-Jones, Powell-Pepper, Ladhams, Amon. BULLDOGS: Bontempelli, Daniel, Dale, Macrae, Smith, Liberatore, Naughton.
GOALS POWER: Georgiades 2, Fantasia 2, Dixon 2, Amon, Gray, Drew, Hartlett, Wines, Powell-Pepper. BULLDOGS: Naughton 4, Weightman 3, Bruce 2, Bontempelli 2, Johannisen 2, Hannan, McNeil.
INJURIES POWER: Clurey (head knock). BULLDOGS: Wood (hamstring).
UMPIRES Nicholls, Howorth, Fleer.
ADELAIDE OVAL 32,787
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JASON PHELAN’S VOTES
3 M. Bontempelli (WB)
2 O. Wines (PA)
1 C. Daniel (WB)
Originally published as Dogs send huge message to AFL rivals