Tough contest: Bulldog Adam Cooney and St Kilda's Jack Steven compete. Photo: Pat Scala
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.5.3 0.5.3 0.9.6 0.10.7 (67) ST KILDA 0.1.0 1.3.4 1.6.4 1.7.5 (56)
Nine pointers: Western Bulldogs: Nil. St Kilda: L Montagna.
Goals: Western Bulldogs: L Dahlhaus 3 L Hunter 2 J Tutt K Stevens M Boyd S Crameri T Liberatore. St Kilda: B Maister 2 E Templeton 2 J Steven L Montagna T Dennis-Lane.
Best: Western Bulldogs: Liberatore, Macrae, Boyd, Wallis, Dahlhaus, Stevens. St Kilda: Steven, Montagna, Geary, Armitage, Savage, Hickey.
Umpires: Brett Rosebury, Andrew Mitchell, Matthew Leppard.
Venue: Simonds Stadium.
Pre-season football should have something for everyone, and so it was in Geelong on Wednesday night as the Western Bulldogs won a clash that was preceded by a flood and featured enough cause for sunny optimism albeit in wild bursts - to cheer two teams in rebuild at a neutral and distant venue.
The Western Bulldogs had brought up a century by quarter-time, and it was as eye-catching as any hundred scored before lunch. Some statistics mislead, but 101 possessions to your opponent's 43 - even more so, 34 handball receives to six - reeks of rare dominance.
NAB Challenge Game 8 with a Flood
A flooded Simonds Stadium before the St Kilda v Western Bulldogs NAB Challenge match. Photo: Social Media
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Dahlhaus (0.3.0), Hunter (0.2.1), Stevens (0.1.1), Boyd (0.1.0), Crameri (0.1.0), Liberatore (0.1.0), Tutt (0.1.0), Stringer (0.0.2), Dickson (0.0.1), Wallis (0.0.1)||Scorers||Montagna (1.1.0), Maister (0.2.1), Templeton (0.2.1), Steven (0.1.1), Dennis-Lane (0.1.0), Curren (0.0.1), Hickey (0.0.1)|
Such was the Saints' turnaround that if Tom Curren's dribbled shot just before half-time had gone left of the post rather than right they would have gone in with the lead. A Beau Maister soccer a minute into the third quarter duly gave Alan Richardson his first experience of coaching from the front.
It didn't last long, but there were bright signs beyond the efforts of usual suspects Jack Steven, Leigh Montagna, Jarryn Geary and David Armitage. Shane Savage showed he will add depth around the ball, Curren, Luke Dunstan and Jimmy Webster had a crack, Tom Hickey rucked smartly, and Burnie boy Eli Templeton kicked two soccer goals that were as eye-catching as his hair.
Brendan McCartney would have left a familiar venue with nourishing food for thought. Tom Liberatore, Mitch Wallis and Jack Macrae were ominous in winning and clearing stoppages, while Jake Stringer's game hinted at the collegiate benefit the Bulldogs' forward line will gain from Stewart Crameri's presence.
Crameri began with new Saint Josh Bruce at his side, and a pedigree as an elite rower that would have served the former GWS Giant well had the game been played on the lake Simonds Stadium resembled two hours earlier. The former Bomber got the drop on him to mark and kick the game's second goal, but Bruce stuck fast to a task helped by the soggy stage. Crameri ran hard but could only muster a few touches.
Lachie Hunter's soccer for the first goal of the night betrayed the order of the night, while Tom Campbell's two contested marks in the first 10 minutes defied them. By the first change it was anything but a contest, baldly illustrated in a handball receives column that showed how little easy possession the Saints could conjure.
Their rise in tempo and output was pleasing, but another Bulldogs surge that included a third goal from the shorn but still silky Luke Dahlhaus - helped by another sweeping shower that slowed scoring to a trickle - was enough to decide the result. Yet the bottom line that mattered was that both teams found positives with which to attack the serious stuff.