Western Bulldogs have beaten Fremantle by 28 points in the final game of round 12 at Perth Stadium, but the game may prove costly for both sides.
On a day of chaos on the injury front, the Dockers’ loss was made worse by signifcant injuries to Nat Fyfe (dislocated shoulder), Brennan Cox (high hamstring tear) and Sean Darcy within a minute or two of each other in the final quarter.
It appeared that Fyfe’s injured shoulder was the same one that he has already had reconstructed.
Fremantle had also lost defender Griffin Logue who was concussed in a collision with opponent Aaron Naughton in a contest.
The Bulldogs also lost ruckman Stefan Martin with a dislocated shoulder and Tim English had a knee problem in the final term, although he returned to the ground to finish the game.
The win gives the Bulldogs a two-game break over Geelong in second spot, although the Cats have played one game less and are due to face Port Adelaide on Thursday.
Earlier, West Coast West Coast’s win over Carlton at the SCG put them back up to seventh on the ladder.
Star Bulldogs midfielder Marcus Bontempelli was crucial in the win with 27 disposals, seven clearances and two booming goals, while Jack Macrae racked up 35 disposals.
Naughton snared 13 marks, including five contested, in a phenomenal aerial effort.
But his goalkicking let him down badly and he finished with 1.5.
Rookie Dockers forward Josh Treacy booted three goals in a breakout game, while David Mundy tallied 30 disposals and eight clearances.
Dockers defender Nathan Wilson could be in strife after purposely striking Cody Weightman in the groin after giving away a free kick.
Fremantle suffered a pre-match blow when spearhead Matt Taberner was a late withdrawal after failing to recover from an ankle injury.
Bontempelli was on fire early as the Bulldogs registered five scores from their first five inside 50m entries.
Alarm bells were ringing for Fremantle when Bontempelli launched one from outside 50m to stretch the lead to 22 points midway through the second term.
Dockers forward Liam Henry hit back with a touch of brilliance, dribbling the ball forward before scooping down and shaking off a Caleb Daniel tackle to snap truly.
The margin was just 11 points when Henry scampered to keep the ball from going out in a piece of play that led to a Treacy goal.
But it was Bontempelli who stepped up to the plate yet again, roosting another one from outside 50m to give the Bulldogs a 16-point lead at half-time.
Treacy sent the home fans wild when he ran down Hayden Crozier on the stroke of three-quarter time and then kicked truly after the siren to reduce the margin back to eight points.
But it all went downhill for the Dockers from there as Fyfe, Darcy, and Cox were all struck down within minutes of each other early in the final term.
The injury carnage left Fremantle with just one fit man on the bench, and the Bulldogs were never troubled from that point.
Eagles earn tough win on the road
West Coast Eagles have ended a more than two decade-long drought at the SCG, with a vital 22-point win over Carlton in Sydney.
Missing a string of key players, the Eagles were trying to end a two game losing streak with a first victory at the venue since 1999.
They led for almost the entire game apart from a short period late in the second quarter, and Adam Simpson’s men ran out winners by 14.11 (95) to 10.13 (73).
For the Eagles, Liam Ryan booted four goals and took the latest in a string of mark-of-the-round contenders.
However the livewire forward – who appeared to have a hip problem in the warm-up – came off in the final quarter with hamstring tightness.
The match was brutal from an injury perspective, with both teams forced to use their medical subs in the first half due to concussion incidents.
First, West Coast’s Brad Sheppard came off second-best after an accidental clash of heads with Carlton’s Adam Saad late in the opening quarter.
He was taken to the rooms, and later ruled out of the game — he was replaced by Jamaine Jones.
Less than five minutes after the first incident, Blues’ key forward Harry McKay came off the ground after his head hit the turf in a marking contest. He was also assessed with concussion and replaced by Jack Newnes.
In the third quarter the Blues lost another player for the game, when Nic Newman went up for a high ball in defensive 50 and landed on his head and neck in a scary moment.
He walked off the ground after a couple of minutes, but became the third player to be diagnosed with concussion, leaving Carlton down to three on the bench.
The win puts West Coast back in seventh spot after 12 rounds, ahead of Richmond on percentage.
The Eagles were due to have a bye in round 13, but their match against the Tigers has been brought forward from round 14 to next Sunday in Perth.
For Carlton, the loss is another tough result which will increase pressure on coach David Teague.
Young midfielder Sam Walsh led the way with 30 disposals and four clearances. In the absence of McKay, the Blues’ main goalkickers were Eddie Betts, Tom De Koning and Matthew Owies with two goals each.