DOGS PREVAIL IN A THRILLER
JUST A BEHIND IN IT
WESTERN Bulldogs have won one of the greatest finals in recent AFL history, rushing the winning behind in the last minute to win a semi-final epic over Brisbane 11.13 (79) to 11.12 (78).
The two sides traded lengthy runs of goals, with the Lions kicking four straight across the second and third quarters to take a three-goal lead.
But the Bulldogs responded with four consecutive goals of their own, hitting the front through former Lion Josh Schache early in the final term.
Brisbane stormed back and scores were level for most of the last quarter. Bailey Smith might’ve kicked the winner with two minutes left but Zac Bailey goalled seconds later.
Laitham Vandermeer then rushed the winning behind and, while the Lions got the ball forward, couldn’t score from two late entries.
After a great inside 50 from Marcus Bontempelli, his midfield mate Tom Liberatore slotted the first goal of the night for the Bulldogs.
But a stellar kick from Hugh McCluggage allowed Charlie Cameron – who kicked five last week against Melbourne – to record Brisbane’s first goal. Liberatore then hit back with his second goal of the quarter, the Bulldogs thriving in a chaotic game, leading 16-7 in the groundball gets.
But despite that deficit only increasing, the Lions started to get their own game going thanks to Oscar McInerney’s work in the ruck against Lewis Young and the Dogs’ other makeshift ruckmen.
Lincoln McCarthy got things going before Joe Daniher and Cameron added two more in 30 seconds, putting the Lions up by two goals.
Against the run of play Bailey Smith got the Dogs back on the board before Cameron outran Easton Wood – perhaps unsurprisingly – for his third of the term.
Brisbane led 5.3 (33) to 3.4 (22) at quarter-time, having kicked three goals directly from centre bounces.
The Lions had the first four inside 50s of the second term, but on the Dogs’ first entry, a juggling mark and clean set shot allowed Aaron Naughton to get the Bulldogs on the board.
Brisbane’s Jack Payne was left worse for wear after a brutal collision in a contest with teammate McCarthy’s knee striking him in the head. Both players came from the ground with Payne left bloody.
With the game finally slowing down – and therefore on the Dogs’ terms – they levelled the scores at 34all through Mitch Hannan.
They then hit the front after Cody Weightman missed a big mark, but recovered quickly at ground level and snapped it around the corner for his first goal.
Payne was subbed out late in the second term, replaced by Ryan Lester.
It took the return of the manic pressure from the first term to get the Lions back in it, with Mitch Robinson goalling and Territorian Zac Bailey kicking a behind to level the scores at 41 late in the half. A Bontempelli behind just before the siren put his Bulldogs up 6.6 (42) to 6.5 (41) at halftime.
A clever piece of play from McCluggage allowed him to kick the first goal of the second half and put the hosts back in front. McCluggage missed two ensuing chances but one of the Lions’ best shots on goal, Zac Bailey, kicked truly to open up a 12point margin.