Bulldogs end the drought
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.3.3 0.5.3 0.8.4 1.10.6 (75) HAWTHORN 0.1.3 1.3.5 1.6.6 2.8.8 (74)
SUPER GOALS: Western Bulldogs: Smith. Hawthorn: Roughead, Franklin.
GOALS: Western Bulldogs: Griffen 2, Goodes, Johannissen, Stringer, Stevens, Dahlhaus, Jones, Murphy, Dickson. Hawthorn: Franklin 4, Hale 2, Smith, Savage.
BEST: Western Bulldogs: Smith, Boyd, Roughead, Murphy, Griffen, Minson. Hawthorn: Franklin, Mitchell, Smith, Suckling, Cheney, Simpkin.
INJURIES: Western Bulldogs: Stringer (ankle). Hawthorn: Hale (foot).
UMPIRES: Jeffery, Findlay, Talbot.
CROWD: 8152 at Etihad Stadium
FEW NAB Cup wins of recent times will have been accompanied by as many smiles as greeted the Western Bulldogs’ one-point thriller over Hawthorn on Friday night.
Yes, it was only a pre-season hit-out, but when it’s the first day of March and you’ve been winless since the middle of last June, a victory of any description will do just nicely.
Hawthorn's Lance Franklin tackles Bulldog Clay Smith. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
It was a plucky effort indeed from the Dogs, who started better than their more seasoned opponents and twice were able to bounce back from bursts of Hawthorn brilliance that were delivered chiefly by superstar Lance Franklin, who finished a big night with five goals, a couple of score assists and 17 disposals.
The last of those appeared to have got the Hawks over the line with a 14-point break but it was the Dogs who barked loudest when it counted, Luke Dahlhaus threading a goal from the tightest of angles on the boundary line, then Clay Smith letting rip with a long bomb for a nine-point goal and the lead. Jordan Lewis might have given Hawthorn victory, but instead tied the scores, and a "poster" from Liam Jones let his team experience a recent rarity of singing the theme song after the bell.
The Bulldogs had made the running with the first three goals of the game on the board. Veteran Bob Murphy, playing up forward, dobbed the first, and Ryan Griffen the second after Daniel Cross had intercepted an unusually sloppy kick-in from the Hawks’ Brent Guerra.
NAB Cup round 2 Bulldogs v Hawks
Hawthorn's Lance Franklin flys high and marks. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
The third was arguably one of the more cohesive passages of football the Bulldogs have strung together since early last year, Murphy bringing the ball inside, Daniel Giansiracusa linking up on the overlap, and the dangerous-looking Jason Johannisen converting on the run from 35 metres. Off-season pick-up Nick Lower was prolific, as was skipper Matthew Boyd, and up forward Liam Jones looked likely, though his kicking not so much.
Hawthorn, meanwhile, seemed to be following on from the sloppiness of last week’s effort at Carrara, with some poor touch and misdirected kicking marring its first quarter efforts. Not for the first time, though, it was Franklin whose brilliance was able to get the Hawk engine ticking over.
Hawthorn’s first goal came only shortly before the quarter-time siren, Franklin converting a pass from the impressive-looking Jonathan Simpkin. But within five minutes of the restart, it was back on level terms.
Franklin finished off a nice set play when Lewis, whom the Bulldog defence expected to shoot from 40 metres, pulled his kick, Franklin running into space and on to the spoils. With almost the next attack, David Hale, having a spell up forward while Jarryd Roughead took the ruckwork, marked strongly after pushing off Will Minson.
Will Minson out-jumps David Hale. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Then the Hawks were in front after one of those signature "Buddy" moments. Working up the ground with his opponent Jordan Roughead, the younger Bulldog attacked the ball just past the centre circle. Franklin, showing better judgment, waited back, and after the ball bounced over his man’s head, bid farewell, taking off on a run before bombing for goal from inside the centre square, a nine-point goal the reward.
But the Bulldogs were made of far sterner stuff than in their dismal run of 11 straight losses to end last season. The revival began with a goal to mature age recruit Brett Goodes. Jones was then finally able to convert an opportunity after a strong one-handed grab. And perhaps the most inspiring moment of the Dogs’ evening came when highly rated draftee Jake Stringer, fresh off the substitutes’ bench, burst through a despairing tackle from seasoned Hawk Sam Mitchell, and from a tight angle, went the checkside kick for maximum reward.
His night was ended not long after with an ankle injury but even that cameo, along with the game of tough midfielder Smith, Jordan Roughead in defence, and the efforts of more new material in Lower and Koby Stevens, would have given the Dogs at least some hope that this year doesn’t necessarily have to be as barren as some are predicting. Not to mention a recent unknown experience. Finishing the game ahead on the scoreboard.