The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
LIONS HAD MOMENTS BUT DOGS ON A ROLL
AS OPENING months go in footy, it could scarcely have gone better for the allconquering Western Bulldogs.
While the focus will fall on the emerging three-headed monster – Tim English, Aaron Naughton and Josh Bruce – roaring up forward, two more important aspects of Luke Beveridge’s master plan fell into place in a comfortable 19-point win over the Brisbane Lions in Ballarat on Saturday.
Long-time Magpies ball magnet Adam Treloar has been more serviceable than spectacular in the club’s opening three victories.
But in gathering 17 kicks and 12 handballs at Mars Stadium, Treloar finally took his expected place in the upper echelon of an already powerful midfield.
That it came alongside typically stellar performances from Jackson Macrae (32 disposals) and Josh Dunkley (27 disposals) was not surprising.
The Dogs vaulted back to the top of the ladder, primarily because of a three-goal salvo against a stiff breeze in the opening term.
The form of former skipper and intercepting machine Easton Wood – after his delayed start to the season – across halfback was encouraging.
And the cream on a sweet cake was Lewis Young, a late inclusion who was a great defensive foil against Brisbane’s tall timber too.
Lions coach Chris Fagan highlighted the marking strength of the Dogs’ Tim English and Aaron Naughton
“(They) took those big contested marks and in the end that’s probably the difference in the game,” Fagan said.
“I thought the other thing they did incredibly well was their tackle efficiency, was 75% or something which is a big number, and they had a lot of them.
“They were the areas where they had the edge and gave them victory.
“I thought the effort of our players was fine, we won enough of the ball.
“In a game that was hard fought in difficult conditions, that was probably the edge.”
They didn’t win, but the highlight reel will contain two extraordinary Lions moments.
First up, the mighty hanger from athletic full-forward Eric Hipwood in the second term when he “posterised” Bailey Williams with a classic vertical leap.
But an even better piece of skill came in the dying minutes when an otherwise flat recruit Joe Daniher bounced through a goal using his nonpreferred foot from 50m out on the boundary line in front of the North Ballarat pavilion.
Fagan was disappointed with his forward line.
“It didn’t function as well today as I’d like,” he said. “Maybe they’ve just got to play with each other a little more.
“There were times last week against Collingwood and Geelong when it functioned really well. So we’ve seen it, but it just hasn’t been consistently (yet).
“That will come, I’m sure.” Fagan expects his Lions to bounce back.
“We’ll get home and reset,” he said.
“It hasn’t been a bad three weeks for us. We lose the Geelong game by a point, beat Collingwood by a point and we played an honest enough game up here today.”