Dockers Drop Dogs At Domain On Saturday


Written by Josh Lloyd (@redrock_bball)on 09 April 2017   

The Western Bulldogs looked sluggish from the opening bounce Saturday night, and aside from a couple of passages of play in the second and third quarters, they never really overcame that lethargy and ended up on the wrong side of an 89-73 scoreline.

The Fremantle Dockers had been humbled by Port Adelaide last week to the tune of 89 points, and the local media blowtorch had been turned up on Ross Lyon and his purple pride, and they responded with an emphatic victory over the reigning premiers.

It was a tale of two sides, as it often is in any AFL contest. Despite having a terrible record against Fremantle at Domain Stadium, the Bulldogs would’ve headed into the game with no fears, but they did not handle the cauldron well at all. After heading into the final quarter with a 14 point lead, one which they had worked extraordinarily hard to reacquire, the Bulldogs surrendered a five-goal last quarter to the Dockers to go down in a disappointing defeat.

No Picken, No Dogs?

Liam Picken has arguably been the Bulldogs’ best player in their six consecutive victories, so when he was ruled out of the game in the second quarter due to a concussion, suffered when his head was squished between a hip and the hard surface, the Dogs had a battle coming. Not only were Luke Beveridge’s men one rotation down for 2.5 quarters, but their inspirational, tone-setter wasn’t there, and his absence proved costly.

The Good

You couldn’t argue that Lachie Hunter wasn’t working tirelessly, especially when the pressure was on in the first quarter. Hunter has added goal kicking to his repertoire, and he added three majors, including a couple of very tight finishes from the boundary. He is the Bulldogs’ leading goal scorer this season; a development no-one saw coming. He added 26 disposals, and while he was quiet in the second half, his play kept the Dogs in the game early on.

Tom Liberatore dished an amazing 22 handballs in his 28 disposals, and while he didn’t keep up his 15 tackle average, he did lay eight of them on the Dockers, in an area the Bulldogs were below par all night. He barely made an error.

Bob Murphy looked sublime up forward, kicking two goals and delivering searing passes and he has not lost a step since returning from his ACL surgery.

The Bad

The Bulldogs looked slow. Their manic pressure was non-existent, and they always seemed to be a step behind their Fremantle counterparts, and they weren’t able to close down space as has become their trademark.

Travis Cloke was not good. He took two marks and did not have a single shot at goal, and there is a chance he has a spell next week. He provided very little in terms of a target and couldn’t get his hands on the ball.

The Ugly

A lot of the stats were close. Clearances, inside 50s, scoring shots, free kicks, even disposal efficiency. But the horrendous nature of the turnovers committed in the defensive 50 was the deciding factor in the game.

Marcus Adams has been solid since returning, winning his one-on-one contests, but there is not a single worse handballer in the entire AFL. His inexcusable handball at the end of the third quarter was lucky to not result in a score, but not so his cross-goal kick earlier in that stanza.

He is, without doubt, the worst user of the ball on the team, and my heart goes into my mouth whenever he has a decision to make with the pill in his mitts. He wasn’t alone. Easton Wood gifted David Mundy a goal in the fourth to snuff out any hope of a comeback. Shane Biggs left the ball bounce past him when he had a five-metre lead and a three on one advantage deep in defensive 50, Matthew Boyd performed his usual feint-one-way-go-the-other turnover, while Tom Campbell coughed it up left, right, centre. It’s tough to win a game when you are giving away goals 20 metres out.

The Bulldogs defence has been great. Fletcher Roberts did everything he needed to do. Wood provided some great intercepts, and Jason Johannisen turned the game the Bulldogs’ way in the second quarter, but those mistakes will kill any momentum a team has.

It was also a return to the inefficient ways of 2016. The Bulldogs kicked horribly in front of goal, going 10.13, and averaged over two inside 50s per scoring shots, over 10 percent worse than Fremantle.

Looking Ahead

The Bulldogs take on another winless opponent in the inaugural Good Friday game, facing off against the 0-3 North Melbourne. There will be changes made. Stewart Crameri could return, but I feel there needs to be some more speed and skill introduced. It’s hard to win with unskilled players like Campbell, Adams, and Lin Jong butchering the ball and with Cloke, Tom Boyd, and Campbell in the same team, the speed and pressure just isn’t high enough.

I think it’s time for Josh Dunkley to return, and perhaps Clay Smith or Baileys Dale and Williams, with Cloke, Jong, or Cordy on the chopping block. Of course, if Picken is forced to miss, Smith would seem to be the obvious replacement if he is fit.

Final Scores

 

Goals

Behinds

Points

Fremantle

13

11

89

Western Bulldogs

10

13

73

Goal scorers: Hunter 3, Murphy 2, Bontempelli, M Boyd, Stringer, McLean, Johannisen


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