Dogs beat Eagles in thriller
A late Marcus Bontempelli goal has handed the Western Bulldogs their most pivotal win of the 2020 season, defeating West Coast by two points on Sunday night.
Bontempelli nailed the game clinching goal with just minutes left on the clock with a set shot from 45 metres, stand-in West Coast captain Jeremy McGovern’s fist on the ball coming the wrong side of the goal line according a score review, the Dogs winners 6.13 (49) to 7.5 (47) in a scrappy contest at Metricon Stadium.
Jack Darling had a chance to be the matchwinner when he won a questionable free kick from a ruck contest in the final minute, but pushed his kick right in an erratic performance from the 2019 All-Australian, his first goalless game since round four.
West Coast started the better of the sides despite coming off a four-day break compared to the Dogs nine, kicking the only four goals of the opening term.
Jake Waterman marked his return from a broken hand with the first two goals of the match, Josh Kennedy converting from a tight angle to extend the Eagles early advantage.
The Bulldogs were winning the clearances and inside 50 counts but missed gettable opportunities through Sam Lloyd and Aaron Naughton, Liam Ryan converting his set shot after the quarter time siren to give the Eagles a 22-point advantage.
The Eagles were without star ruckman Nic Naitanui for the match having been a late withdrawal with a back injury, Tom Hickey called in to fill the breach and give first use to a midfield group that was missing stars Elliot Yeo (groin) and Luke Shuey (hamstring).
The Bulldogs finally hit the scoreboard in the second term as they capitalised on their dominance, kicking the only three goals of the quarter as West Coast was forced to defend grimly.
Despite only registering a behind for the quarter the Eagles were level with their opponents at the half, having lost midfielder Mark Hutchings for the match with a hamstring injury.
Goals were hard to come by in the third term, the Bulldogs again squandering several opportunities to push ahead before Dom Sheed again conjured a critical goal to put his team back in front in the shadows of three-quarter time.
The Dogs immediately responded through Mitch Wallis to take a one-point lead in to the final term in what was a scrappy quarter of football, summated by Jack Darling kicking in to the man on the mark after the three quarter time from his set shot.
The game began to open up a little in the last stanza with both teams having everything to play for, West Coast looking for a top four spot and the Bulldogs a spot in the top 8.
Josh Kennedy got on the end of a neat Andrew Gaff pass to put the Eagles ahead, but Roarke Smith returned the lead to the Dogs after Josh Rotham was penalised for an illegal shepherd.
Some Liam Ryan brilliance set up Tom Cole for a major deep in to the final term, before Bontempelli marked 45 from goal with the game on his boot.
His kick soared to the target, Jeremy McGovern’s fingertip in vain despite some doubt on the video replay, the ARC going with the goal umpires initial call of a goal with insufficient evidence to overturn the call.
Darling then had a chance to win the game with a set shot from 40 metres after a free kick from a ruck contest with Tim English, but sprayed it to the right in what proved to the Eagles final chance in an error riddled game.
West Coast coach Adam Simpson was frank with his assessment of his side after the match.
“I thought the Bulldogs outplayed us most of the night. We were brave, we lost Hutch early, but we didn’t get it done. The second quarter really cost us. It would have been a bloody dirty game to watch,” he said.
“It was a close game. Duggan looked good in the second half, Ainsworth did a job for us in the second half. Jetta went back. We almost got there. But we didn’t.”
Simpson confirmed tagger Hutchings was set for a stint on the sidelines with his hamstring injury.
“Hutch couldn’t come back on. I suspect he won’t be playing for a while.”
The Eagles will back up again on Thursday against St Kilda at the Gabba, while the Bulldogs head to Adelaide to face Hawthorn next Sunday.
IMAGE: Perth Now.