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Opposition Watch: Round 20 v Western Bulldogs

Michael Gosman  August 2, 2017 12:13 PM

Our next opposition, the Western Bulldogs, recorded a valuable victory over the Essendon Bombers in Round 19.

The victory was the Bulldogs’ third in a row and helped steady their premiership defence which appeared to be in tatters midway through the season.

The match against Essendon had plenty riding on it, with the winner keeping touch with the top eight while the loser would find themselves slipping back from the finals race. 

In front of almost 50,000 fans at Etihad Stadium, it was the Bombers who showed off their desperation early and jumped out to a quick 19-point lead.

Both sides were happy to take plenty of risks, with one of the games of the season unfolding.

The Bulldogs eventually settled into the match and kicked the final four goals of the first quarter to take a five-point lead at the first change.

Heading into half time the margin remained the same despite the best efforts of Bombers forward Joe Daniher, who had four first-half goals to his name.

Essendon continued to challenge the Bulldogs in the second half, never letting the margin exceed a few goals, and drawing back within six points with only a few minutes left to play.

Four late goals to the Bulldogs saw off the Bombers challenge and capped off an entertaining and frenetic encounter, with the score finishing 19.13 (127) to 13.19 (97).

Bulldogs Coach Luke Beveridge was happy with how his side defended the Bombers attacking brand of football.

"No doubt it was a manic game and a really turnover orientated game,” Beveridge said.

They play a fast, slick brand of footy with a really healthy appetite for risk, and sometimes it's hard to defend when you give the ball back to them or let the ball spit out.

"We're always searching for that type of footy, but maybe because the Bombers like to score heavily they gave us a bit more of a chance to do the same."

After a quieter than expected season, 2016 Norm Smith medallist Jason Johannisen showed he can still be a game changer, booting four goals after a surprise move up front.

Shane Biggs was damaging across halfback with 29 disposals and 11 marks, while Marcus Bontempelli chipped in with two goals and 23 disposals.

The Bulldogs sit in ninth place on the ladder heading into Round 20, with a win on Saturday likely to push them back up into the top eight.  

Jack Redpath will be available for selection after a one-week suspension, potentially taking Travis Cloke’s spot in the side. Matthew Boyd could also be an inclusion after being the standby player last weekend. 

Injury List

Aside from a minor knee injury to Lewis Young, the Bulldogs escaped the victory over Essendon unscathed.

Young will be fine to go this weekend, but key forward Jake Stringer looks to be another week or two away from returning after injuring his hamstring in Round 17 against Carlton. 

Lions Health Centre: Injury List

Mitch Honeychurch was a late withdrawal from the Essendon clash through illness but will likely be available for selection on Saturday.   

Josh Dunkley (shoulder), Fergus Greene (arm) and Patrick Lipinski (hamstring) are also likely to be available for selection this week.