IT wasn’t pretty for the most part but the Western Bulldogs have kept their unbeaten start to the season alive, the ladder leaders shaking off a brave Greater Western Sydney late to skip away to a 39-point win at Manuka Oval on Friday night.
The Bulldogs led by three points at three-quarter time on a cold night in Canberra, but kicked the first three goals of the final term to set up a 15.14 (104) to 9.11 (65) win that improved their record to 6-0.
Jack Macrae starred for the Dogs with 40 possessions and a goal, with Marcus Bontempelli (26 disposals and a goal), Adam Treloar (35 and a goal) and Josh Dunkley (29) all important.
However, the win came at a cost for Luke Beveridge’s side, with Dunkley (shoulder dislocation), Tim English (head knock) and Lin Jong (hamstring) failing to see out the game.
Dogs fans salivating at the prospect of their high-flying team feasting on the injury-depleted and inexperienced Giants were left disappointed as Leon Cameron’s men took the fight to their arch-rivals for three quarters.
Toby Greene (19 possessions and four goals) was instrumental as GWS denied the Bulldogs time and space to get their vaunted fast-paced game up and running.
Both sides activated their medical substitutes in the first quarter, with injury-plagued Bulldog Jong and important Giant Nick Haynes (hamstring) leaving the game.
A late Josh Bruce goal gave the Dogs an eight-point lead at the first break, but Greene’s second major, following a brief scuffle with old sparring partner Bontempelli, put the Giants back in front early in the second term.
Lachie McNeil, who replaced Jong, restored the Bulldogs’ lead and Tom Liberatore booted the last goal of the first half.
With Macrae leading the way, the ladder leaders had seven of the top eight possession winners on the ground at halftime but still led by just eight points.
The inaccurate Dogs peppered the goals after the restart but still couldn’t shake the Giants, youngster Conor Stone kicking his first major at the elite level.
Aaron Naughton kicked his side’s only goal for the quarter and when Bobby Hill fed Greene for his third, the plucky Giants trailed by three points at three- quarter time.
But as brave as they had been, GWS couldn’t contain the Bulldogs any longer.
Bontempelli, Macrae and Treloar all hit the scoreboard as the Dogs booted nine goals to three for the quarter, Naughton kicking his second after the siren.
(C) AAP 2021
WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.3 5.7 6.11 15.14 (104)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 1.1 4.5 6.8 9.11 (65)
Goals: Western Bulldogs: A Naughton 2 B Dale 2 J Bruce 2 L McNeil 2 T Liberatore 2 A Treloar J Johannissen J Macrae L Hunter M Bontempelli. Greater Western Sydney: T Greene 4 C Stone C Ward H Himmelberg J Hopper T Taranto.
Umpires: Jacob Mollison, Robert O’Gorman, Justin Power.
Official Crowd: 10,064 at Manuka Oval.