Bulldogs stay on target for AFL top four

An electrifying early blitz by the Western Bulldogs set up an emphatic 98-point win over Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

In a blistering assault, the Bulldogs scored the first 12 goals of the AFL match before the Demons managed to kick their first major in the 16th minute of the second quarter.

Paul Roos’ side did well to fight back with a five-goals-to-nil third quarter but that resistance proved short-lived as the Dogs rolled to a percentage-boosting 24.9 (153) to 8.7 (55) win that could prove vital in their bid for a top-four finish.

Luke Beveridge wouldn’t be drawn on what the win meant for his side’s finals ambitions but he agreed the Dogs were hitting their straps at the right end of the season.

“We’ve really grown as the year’s rolled on, there’s no doubt the momentum is strong, but we’ve got a busy period coming up,” Beveridge said, referring to his side’s three away games to finish the season.

“We’re scoring heavily but defensively we’ve been really sound and that balance is really important for us.

“Today was another good example of our players getting it done in all phases and it’s a credit.”

The Bulldogs had winners all over the ground with Luke Dahlhaus, Lachie Hunter and Mitch Wallis impressive on the ball, while Jake Stringer led the way with four goals in an attack that had 12 different goalkickers.

Jarrad Grant did the damage early with three first-quarter goals as the rampant Dogs ran rings around Melbourne.

The Demons were as deplorable as the Bulldogs were impressive with missed tackles, skill errors and a lack of run allowing the opposition to do largely as they pleased.

A 49-point lead at the first break blew out to 74 when Stringer slotted his first goal in the ninth minute of the second term but with a record demolition in the offing, Melbourne found first gear.

Successive goals stemmed the bleeding and set up a stunning reversal in the third quarter.

Led by Tom McDonald, Nathan Jones and Bernie Vince, the Demons lifted their work rate and applied greater pressure on the Dogs, who didn’t handle the slower game tempo.

“We were a bit static,” Beveridge said.

“There’s no doubt it’s difficult to keep up what we did in the first half and, countered with Melbourne’s new energy after halftime, maybe a bit of momentum their way was always going to come.”

The Demons booted five goals while the Bulldogs reorganised themselves to slash the margin to 42 points but normal transmission resumed in the final term.

Beveridge’s side slipped back into top gear and piled on 10 goals to the fading Demons’ one to put an exclamation point on an impressive display.

“We got smashed around the ball in the first half,” Roos said.

“I think we were plus-three in the third quarter in contested possession and you give yourself a chance.

“But if you’re not going to do it it’s very difficult to win at this level, particularly against a very good football team.”

Melbourne defender Neville Jetta was taken to hospital at halftime after suffering pins and needles in his neck following a collision.

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