Dogs dismantle Eagles
The Western Bulldogs have stamped their premiership credentials in season 2021, thrashing West Coast to the tune of 51 points at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
Fans were barred from the stadium just hours before the start of the contest after a positive covid case emerged in Perth's Northern suburbs, the home side failing to fire a shot at an empty venue as the Bulldogs prevailed 13.20 (98) to 6.7 (43).
Dogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli starred with 29 disposals and 3 goals to further press his claims for a Brownlow Medal as part of a dominant midfield, Jackson Macrae (32 disposals and a goal) and Bailey Smith (27 disposals and 2.2) also impactful.
West Coast welcomed back stars Jeremy McGovern, Tim Kelly, Brad Sheppard and skipper Luke Shuey for the clash, the Eagles fresh off their bye having beaten Richmond by a thriller in round 13.
The Dogs controlled the game from the opening stages, Aaron Naughton kicking the game's opening major after marking a dumped kick from Lachie Hunter landed on his chest at the top of the goal square.
The game was being played completely on the visitors terms but the visitors wasted several opportunities to be further ahead, kicking eight behinds for the term to let the Eagles off the hook.
Bontempelli broke the run of behinds with a goal just before quarter time, the Dogs leading by 13 points at the first break.
Josh Kennedy got on the board in the second quarter in what was his 250th game for West Coast, kicking truly from 30 metres out after getting on the end of a slick Liam Ryan pass.
Ryan is likely to face scrutiny from match review officer Michael Christian after clipping Jason Johannisen high, leaving the 2016 Norm Smith Medallist with a glancing blow to the jaw.
Bontempelli responded almost immediately for Luke Beveridge's side, who went in at half time with a 20 point lead thanks to a late Toby McLean major.
The Eagles lifted their game in the third term but couldn't get close enough to challenge the Dogs, Bailey Smith with two goals for the quarter to cancel out Oscar Allen's two majors in a minute up the other end for the home side.
A late Jake Waterman miss robbed the Eagles of momentum heading in to the last term, the Bulldogs piling on the pain in the last as they finally found their mojo in front of goal, Bontempelli with a goal of the season contender with a snap from the right forward pocket.
Naughton slotted three final quarter goals to have four on the contest, the Dogs kicking six last term goals to hand West Coast their biggest ever defeat at Optus Stadium.
"I thought the start was really disappointing. We knew their strength around the ball, contest and work rate. They handled conditions well and got really good field position," West Coast coach Adam Simpson said post match.
"A lot of credit has to go to the Bulldogs. They used the ball, they work for each other. They handled the conditions better."
Veteran Shannon Hurn (26 disposals) and ruckman Nic Naitanui (20 disposals and 39 hitouts) were their side's best on a tough day, now forced to regroup as they face sixth placed Sydney at neutral venue GMHBA Stadium next Sunday.
IMAGE: Fox Sports