The Western Bulldogs overcame the GWS Giants in stunning fashion, winning by five points, 9.8 (62) to 8.9 (67) to stay in the finals.
It was a case of appearances with neither side gaining momentum throughout the day, including several lead changes in the third quarter. The Dogs kicked the opening – and only – field goal of the fourth quarter.
With that, Luke Beveridge’s side improved to 11-10 on the season, sitting a full game behind Richmond and Carlton.
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There were no late changes for either side, with Roark Smith (Western Bulldogs) and Xavier O’Halloran (GWS) named on medical appointments.
Quarter-by-quarter match report
The first quarter
After shutting down Zach Merrett, Harry Perryman got the job over Tom Liberator because the Giants clearly knew the player was a bust.
After a see-saw start to the game in which neither team could find momentum, Bailey Smith crossed Aaron Naughton in midfield to set up the game’s opening goal.
The Giants responded at the other end with Jake Riccardi finishing off a transition play to get the visitors on the board.
Bailey Dale extended the Dogs’ lead to 12 points midway through the quarter.
The Dogs led 3.0 (18) to 1.1 (7) at quarter time.
Luke Beveridge’s side continued to push at the start of the second period, with the ball still in the half despite failing to hit the scoreboard.
Jesse Hogan ended a slow game for the Giants with a goal on the scoreboard to bring them back.
Brownlow Medalist Gerard Healy said on Fox Footy: “The dogs are so easily guarded that they get dirty themselves.”
Jake Riccardi nailed his second goal of the game to take the lead as the Giants reeled off back-to-back goals and Mark McVeigh was suddenly on top of the game and dominated the moment.
“The game has changed, the Giants are creating a threat,” Healy said.
Tom Liberatore scored a quick goal in time for the Dogs in the last major of the quarter in a tight affair.
Healy said there was “a lot of work to do” as Beveridge’s side struggled to stay in the hunt after a sloppy first half.
The Dogs lead by four points at the main break, 4.1 (25) to 3.3 (21).
It was very difficult to start the third term without either party giving an inch.
Aaron Naughton had a good one-on-one chance against Lick Aller deep inside the 50 but pushed the young Giant behind.
The momentum then swung the Giants’ way as Callan Ward kicked a crucial goal to give the visitors the lead before Jake Stein duly celebrated his next goal – his first of his career.
“Remind them the Dogs aren’t going to the finals, if they’re going to play their finals game it’s now or never.”
Fox Footy commentator Mark Howard added: “The dogs are under the pump.
But the Dogs turned the game around in the blink of an eye and took a 17-point lead thanks to four goals from Bailey Williams and a long-range bomb from Bailey Smith.
“What a change…suddenly the dominance is restored in a different way. “The last 10 minutes the dogs dominated.” Healy said.
Dal Santo explained how the Dogs’ emphatic response came on the back of a central clearance dominance, with Tim English also on top of the season.
“We asked a question about the kind of response we get from the dogs … It’s all about the cleaning job, especially the mess in the middle square.”
Just when it looked like the Dogs were going to run away with it, the Giants found something late in the quarter, kicking three-straight field goals to regain the lead in dramatic fashion.
A wild quarter ended with GWS leading 8.6 (54) to 8.2 (50).
Both teams squandered chances early in the fourth quarter, with Stephen Coniglio and Aaron Naughton missing chances in front of goal for their respective teams.
Lachlan Keeffe (groin) substituted for Xavier O’Halloran.
Marcus Bontempelli set up Jamarara Ugle-Hagan’s crucial goal of the day to give the Dogs the lead midway through the final half of the season.
The Dogs had a couple of chances to extend their lead but Bontempelli and Lachlan McNeill wasted precious chances.
Both teams continued to battle it out until the final siren, with the Dogs finally emerging with a stunning victory to keep their season alive.
This game kicks off at 1:45pm AEST from Marvel Stadium.
Watch it live on Fox Footy (Channel 504) from 1pm AEST.
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