Wayward Dogs hold off Bombers for AFL win
Posted on 04/25/20 7:45 PM
The Western Bulldogs have beaten Essendon by 21 points in their first AFL win of the season.The Western Bulldogs’ first win of the AFL season meant so much to the embattled team they sang the club song twice.
It didn’t matter that Essendon were a sneaky chance to pinch the points late in the game before a Joe Daniher brain fade – after a fortnight of stinging criticism the Dogs finally barked back with a 14.20 (104) to 12.11 (83) victory on Sunday afternoon.
Reports of unrest at Whitten Oval surfaced after a disastrous 0-2 start to the season but the Bulldogs were clearly the more cohesive unit under the closed roof at Etihad Stadium.
“Maybe we shouldn’t over-celebrate but it was a really important game for us,” Dogs coach Luke Beveridge said after he instructed his victorious players to belt out the song one more time.
“Because we’ve been so down, to come out and do what our players did today … it’s a celebration for our football club.
“Obviously it’s been a challenging couple of weeks … we were probably caught unawares by the first two rounds to a degree.
“Obviously the players were really disappointed with the way the first couple of weeks unfolded, but they’ve been nothing but galvanised.”
The Dogs led by a game-high 33 points in the last quarter but Daniher’s howler stalled a stunning late rally.
The big forward had the chance to bring the margin back to 10 points from close range with just over five minutes left, but inexplicably handballed to Josh Green who was immediately tackled with a rushed behind resulting.
While Essendon were brave late, they should consider themselves fortunate not to have suffered a larger defeat.
The rampant Dogs were all over John Worsfold’s side in the first quarter, but led by just seven points at the first break, kicking a wayward 3.9 from their multiple scoring opportunities.
The Bulldogs were savaged for their listless efforts in their opening two defeats but they clearly out-worked the Dons, gaining 101 more uncontested possessions and taking 72 more marks.
“I don’t think we could really play any worse across all aspects of the game,” Worsfold said.
“I don’t even think in 2016 we potentially played that poorly.
“Pretty much everything was poor – decision-making, our support for each other, our ball use, defending. It was all pretty poor.”
The Bombers finished with the wooden spoon in 2016 with a team stripped of stars serving doping bans.
Jake Stringer enjoyed a bright start in his first game against the Dogs after his acrimonious departure but copped a finger in an eye and suffered blurred vision in a quieter second half.