Western Bulldogs 2.4 4.8 4.11 5.15.45
Adelaide 2.2 5.5 12.5 16.8.104
Western Bulldogs: Stringer, Redpath, Suckling, Dale, Dahlhaus
Adelaide: Jenkins 4, Walker 3, Betts 2, Knight, Sloane, Atkins, M. Crouch, B. Crouch, Douglas, Cameron
Alex Docherty's Best
Western Bulldogs: McLean, Hunter, Macrae, Bontempelli, Suckling, M. Boyd
Adelaide: Lever, Walker, Jenkins, Laird, M. Crouch, Kelly, Sloane
Western Bulldogs' coach Luke Beveridge called their 59-point loss to the Adelaide Crows as 'Unacceptable' and 'One of the worst losses since he's been at the football club'.
The reigning champions' struggle to put wins on the board continued as many expected on Friday night at the Adelaide Oval, but the way the Bulldogs carried out their second half against the Crows had nearly every supporter crying out about what a disgraceful performance that was put out by the reigning champs. Playing Adelaide on their home turf has never been an easy feat for any team, but with the rain pouring down upon Adelaide Oval, it at least gave the Dogs a better opportunity to mix it with Adelaide for what should've been most of the game.
Despite the Crows opening up the contest with a Taylor Walker major in the opening two minutes, the Bulldogs showed signs of life, with their intensity and repeated forward 50 entries, yet they made it a real scrap with inaccuracy early.
A Matthew Suckling pearler from outside the 50 metre arc was what the Bulldogs needed as they gained ascendancy mid-way through the first quarter in what became a goal-for-goal affair. A Josh Jenkins goal moments afterwards was cancelled out before quarter time when Jack Redpath kicked it straight as an arrow from long range, to give the Bulldogs a two-point lead heading into the first break.
It was the second quarter that ultimately should've had the Bulldogs ahead by numerous goals and unbeknownst at the time, begun the demise of the reigning premiers - not only in this game, but for their already floundering 2017 campaign. After two easy goals from Eddie Betts and Josh Jenkins, the Dogs dominated the quarter in nearly every facet. They had nearly 50 more disposals, beat Adelaide in contested ball, had 20 inside 50s to Adelaide's 14 and were controlling the clearances - something the side has struggled to do all season long.
But it's been the same constant that has haunted this team time and time again - poor disposals going inside 50 and a lack of accuracy in front of goal. For this team to have 20 inside 50s in a quarter of footy, only to return 2.4 is just absolutely unacceptable and certainly not worthy of a team that's making the finals, let alone defend the premiership. Whenever the Bulldogs did botch a forward 50 entry, it was followed up by the Crows' elite run and spread with the ball and it often resulted in goals.
A Rory Atkins snap gave Adelaide's fifth goal of the game and sent the Crows up by 15 points in what was looking like a low-scoring affair, before Bailey Dale dribbled an important one through to get the Bulldogs back to single digits, before Jake Stringer took an important mark and an equally important goal after the siren to make it only a three point margin. Many were expecting the Stringer goal to be the turning point in what was an entertaining match.
But I for one was wrong, very wrong.
It would take the Western Bulldogs over 45 minutes to register their first goal of the second half, their only goal in the second half as fans and experts witnessed a very different half of footy. One that was entirely dominated by the Adelaide Crows. Whilst something clicked at the half time break for the home side, the visiting Bulldogs looked more like mere witches hats than a premiership side. A team that showed no spirit, no fight and certainly no heart in the way they played.
Crows captain Walker got the Crows off to a flyer in the second half with a goal and then controversially sheparded through Adelaide's second of the third term minutes later as it looked like he shoved Jason Johannisen head-first into the goal-post. Crows fans will say it was a legal block, Dogs fans will say it's an act of thuggery that the Crows got away with. Either way, It will be interesting to see what the Match Review Panel has to say about the matter.
Adelaide would kick seven goals straight in the third term to a miserly three behinds from the visiting team to take a commanding 42-point lead. Things didn't get any better for the Bulldogs as the Crows would continue to push ahead with little to no resistance. A Luke Dahlhaus goal in the 16th minute of the final term spared the Dogs of a scoreless second half, but the damage was already done with a listless second half display. A speccie from Adelaide's Mitch McGovern in the dying minutes probably would've been the highlight of the second half.
The 59-point loss to Adelaide makes it five losses in five interstate trips so far in 2017 and sitting in 11th spot on the ladder with a win-loss record of 7-8, the Bulldogs face a mountain of a task to get back into finals considerations and after one of the more despicable second half performances we've seen in recent memories, it doesn't look like this side will be having a September holiday this season unless something changes within this side and changes dramatically.
We keep hearing talk of player unrest that is consistently denied by the club, but this is a side that is unquestionably miles away from last year in terms of not just their skill and hunger, but their unity as a team. With only seven games left to go in the home and away season, the Dogs need a lot of things going their way if they are to get into the AFL Finals Series this year, as they remain one game and significant percentage outside eighth spot.
Leading The Way
On a night where positives were hard to come by for the Western Bulldogs, the performance of young Toby McLean was a huge plus, as he recorded a career-best 32 disposals along with a personal-best eight tackles and eight clearances and was the Doggies' best player on the night by a mile and then some, whilst Jack Macrae (27 disposals, seven clearances and seven tackles) and Lachie Hunter (27 disposals and nine inside 50s) were also solid contributors in the midfield.
Marcus Bontempelli had a special second quarter as he looked to be a very influential figure. He finished with 24 disposals and six inside 50s, but his influence in the second half certainly faded away like most of his team mates. Matthew Suckling also played a solid game, highlighted by an influential first half. Like the Bont, Suckling faded in the second half, but still finished with 23 disposals, eight inside 50s and a goal. Matthew Boyd also returned into the side and battled hard for 23 disposals and four rebound 50s.
But collectively, there were WAY too many passengers on this night and it starts with the big names on this team, the premiership players. Liam Picken (14 disposals) hardly saw it, Easton Wood (10 disposals) was unusually quiet, Jake Stringer (11 disposals) struggled to work hard after half time and Caleb Daniel (11 disposals) couldn't get involved. This is the major reason why this team isn't winning games - football is a game that needs an even spread of 22 contributors.
Whilst the Dogs were horrible on Friday night, let's not take anything away from the Crows and how they played. They are premiership favourites for a reason and they showed it with their abilty to run, hit targets in wet conditions and their dominance in the air, taking 67 more marks than the Western Bulldogs, 127-60.
Key defender Jake Lever was a hot topic during the week with the Western Bulldogs preparing to offer him a massive contract to come back home to Victoria for the 2018 season. His performance suggested that he's well worth the money, taking 11 marks along with 23 disposals and seven rebound 50s in a stunning defensive effort. Another defender in Rory Laird continues his stunning 2017 season in defence with 32 disposals, 12 marks and five rebound 50s, whilst Jake Kelly (17 disposals, nine tackles and eight marks) and Andy Otten (21 disposals and 10 marks) were also solid in defence.
Despite his incident with Johannisen in the third quarter, Crows' captain Taylor Walker had a fine captain's game with three goals from 18 disposals, seven marks and five inside 50s. Partner-in-crime Josh Jenkins kicked eight goals in the last time these two teams clashed, and provided more headaches for the Bulldogs defenders on Friday night, kicking four goals from 15 disposals and 11 marks. Both men doing a fine job covering for important forward Tom Lynch as he recovers from viral meningitis.
Matt Crouch was a pivotal figure in Adelaide's second half dominance and finished with 32 disposals, five marks, three clearances, inside 50s and a goal, whilst Rory Sloane enjoyed a night without anybody putting a hard tag on him, recording 24 disposals, eight tackles, eight inside 50s, five clearances and a goal. I know Luke Beveridge isn't a fan of the tag, but I think it's time that he started to use it on some of these stars in the same fashion they are doing it to Jason Johannisen who is continuing to cop hard tags each week.
A big chance for the Western Bulldogs to bounce back as they play the 16th-placed Carlton at the Melbourne Cricket Ground next Sunday afternoon.
The form of the Blues hasn't been too bad in recent weeks, despite losing their last three games. They lost to an in-form Melbourne and Adelaide to relatively close margins and were also competitive against Richmond who are also vying for a spot in the top eight, and they did beat another premiership contender Greater Western Sydney five weeks ago - They might be 16th, but Carlton are far from the scrub team we have witnessed a few years ago.
This shapes as a massive game for the Bulldogs and one they cannot afford to drop at this stage in the season, they must rebound after a horror night in Adelaide and there I have no doubt that the criticism that they'll received by the media during the week will fire up the reigning premiers for an all-out assault on the Blues.