Bont breaking the AFL open; silver lining for heartbroken Eagles: The 3-2-1
The Western Bulldogs have sealed a brilliant come from behind win, turning a 14-point final quarter deficit into a seven-point buffer at the final siren, 14.16 (100) to 14.9 (93), going 2-0 to start their season.
West Coast kicked three straight goals in the dying minutes of the third quarter to take a 12-point lead into the final term, but missed several chances to extend the margin before the Western Bulldogs kicked five of the last seven majors to come out on top.
Marcus Bontempelli was phenomenal as captain, kicking three goals (including the sealer) and racking up 30 disposals, while teammate Jackson Macrae had 40 touches in another prolific display.
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The Bulldogs will enter warm favourites against North Melbourne next week, with a golden opportunity to go 3-0, while West Coast will hos Port Adelaide at Optus Stadium in what should be a heavyweight battle.
Bontempelli got off to a roaring start, racking up 15 disposals and four score involvements in the opening term.
The Dogs took a one point lead into the first break but had an abundance of footy, registering 41 more possessions that the Eagles as the star-studded midfield had its way.
As Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, Josh Dunkley and Adam Treloar continued to rack up the footy in the second term, both sides went goal-for-goal, showcasing exciting, end-to-end footy.
Eagles high-flyer Liam Ryan appeared to take a mark of the year contender in the second term before the umpire called play on.
The third term saw both sides go goal-for-goal for a large period before a rapid three goal burst from West Coast gave them a 12-point buffer heading into the final quarter.
Then, after a suite of missed chances by West Coast, the Dogs recovered to storm home and seal their second win from as many games in 2021.
3 - THERE’S STILL A PLACE FOR THE TAG
On Friday night, Geelong showed the benefits of a hard tag, with Mark O’Connor shutting down reigning Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale and rendering him virtually absent from any sort of impact.
At half-time on Sunday, Marcus Bontempelli, who most Fox Footy experts tipped for this year’s Brownlow Medal, was the dominant force on the ground, spearheaded by an astounding first quarter where he racked up 15 touches and four score involvements.
It led Hawthorn great Dermott Brereton to urge the Eagles to clamp down on the Dogs skipper at half-time.
“All my time here at Fox Footy, I have never once called for a tag. But if you don't tag Marcus Bontempelli in this second half you’re just going to let him cut you up slowly,” he said.
“He had 15 possessions in the first quarter, three inside 50s. He is the difference at the moment with his class use of the footy.”
2 - THESE TEAMS WILL LIKELY FEATURE AT THE POINTY END
There were some sloppy passages of play throughout, but the sheer speed and poise with which both teams piled on scores at stages on Sunday suggests they’ll be in the mix come finals.
It was a brilliant contest to watch, with both sides lighting up Marvel Stadium and showing they had the potential to blow the opposition off the park when they get a run on.
Sure, the Eagles lost in the end, but we saw enough from both to know they’re the real deal in 2021 when it comes to finals contention.
1 - BAILEY WILLIAMS DESERVES MORE RESPECT
Williams and the Dogs backline were faced with a monumental task against West Coast’s tall forward line and, despite being picked apart at stages, their composure at the death was simply phenomenal.
Josh Kennedy kicked four goals while Jack Darling kicked three, but when it counted late Williams and his teammates held strong through sheer desperation.
It was a gutsy performance showing that, even though question marks remain against the tall forward lines of the competition, the Dogs’ defence is willing to scrap it out when it counts.
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