Round 7 – W Bulldogs v Fremantle: Young Dogs give Dockers a scare

by Dylan Bolch

 

Fremantle were the only undefeated side in the competition coming into this match against the improving Bulldogs. They were the form side with the huge scalps of Port Adelaide, Geelong, Sydney and West Coast already this season. They had gained added respect due to these wins and were now the most feared side in the league.

 

The Western Bulldogs, were coming off the back of a shock loss against the Saints where they squandered a 55 point lead to give up the four premiership points. The Dockers dropped Matt de Boer for Tommy Sheridan and the Dogs made four changes bringing in Mitch Wallis, Lin Jong, Matt Boyd and a debutant Bailey Dale. Clay Smith’s ACL injury was their only forced change. However the Bulldogs swung the selection axe in the direction of Jack Macrae, Lukas Webb and Nathan Hrovat.

 

The Bulldogs, admired this season for their attack on the ball were expected to be competitive. Rejuvenated by Robert Murphy’s captaincy, they had started the season well with a record of 4-2 and, despite last week’s choking, had beaten last year’s runners up Sydney by four points. Could the Doggies deal Freo their first loss of the year?

 

The first quarter didn’t go to script for the Bulldogs with Fremantle scoring the first five goals of the game. It was beginning to look like a blowout margin with Fremantle going to extend their already solid percentage. But the Bulldogs kicked one goal late through prized recruit Tom Boyd to reduce the margin to 27 points at the first break.

 

Enter Nat Fyfe. Fyfe is possibly the best player in the competition at the moment. By the 23rd minute in the second quarter Fyfe had Man of the Match status under his belt. His 16 disposals (consisting of 13 contested possessions) went nicely with his 7 clearances and couple of goals. All day, Fyfe was a huge headache for the Dogs. But the biggest story of the quarter was his report. Fyfe was reported for tripping and of course this put any prospect of the Brownlow Medal in jeopardy. Fyfe, who was suspended last year due to a high bump, was ineligible to win the prestigious award but thankfully Matt Priddis was the outright winner. Nat Fyfe, who would almost certainly be in the lead in the Brownlow Medal race, and if found guilty and suspended, would have the Brownlow stripped off him, if he did win the most acclaimed individual award. By halftime, Fremantle had already made history. In the past six games for the Dockers, they had lead at the main break each time. In their past five games, they have taken a 20+ point lead into half time.

 

The third quarter was goal for goal, which suited Fremantle more as they already had a comfortable lead from half time. The biggest event of the quarter was probably the Western Bulldogs substitution. Lachie Hunter was injected into the game at the expense of Mitch Honeychurch, one of the favourites for the Rising Star award. Hunter brought added dare and dash to the Bulldogs outfit. Marcus Bontempelli, one of the game’s best young players, was called to bring the Bulldogs home in the last quarter. Fremantle were heavy favourites going into the final quarter and it was going to take a huge effort from the Dogs to win the game. Could Bontempelli and his Bulldogs snatch an unlikely win?

 

Enter Tory Dickson. You could say Tory is an unsung hero at the Bulldogs, but not today. He kicked back-to-back goals for his fifth of the day to again close the gap for the dogs. The man known as the “Bont” then kicked truly after a free kick was given inside 50 to reduce the margin to under a kick. There was belief within the young group. Michael Walters and Matthew Pavlich then both kicked goals before Dickson snagged his sixth and seventh in quick succession. Tory Dickson was now a Bulldogs favourite. Minutes later, Luke Dahlhaus marked a Fremantle clearing kick and slotted his first of the day to level the scores. Were Fremantle going to lose their first game of 2015?

 

At the 27th minute mark, Nat Fyfe missed a simple set shot. Fremantle should’ve been a goal up but Fyfe’s bad habits were again haunting the Dockers. This missed kick, was possibly just one of two mistakes Fyfe made on the night. Michael Walters then put the Dockers 7 points up with under 3 minutes remaining. Hope was still there for the Dogs but when Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich snapped an amazing goal, on the run, from the pocket he finally killed the Bulldogs.

 

The Bulldogs had fought valiantly, but couldn’t defeat a stronger Fremantle outfit on the day.

 

Written by Dylan Bolch Age 14

17/5/15

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