The Western Bulldogs have ended North Melbourne’s seven-match AFL winning streak in dramatic fashion that belies the 23-point winning margin.
In a match of wild momentum swings between two finals-bound sides, the Bulldogs finished with more run on Saturday to claim a 14.12 (96) to 10.13 (73) win.
After overcoming the Kangaroos’ early lead, the Bulldogs looked home and hosed halfway through the last term when Jason Johannisen put them 23 point ahead.
But up stepped former Bulldog Shaun Higgins, in his 150th match, and Jarrad Waite who kicked two goals in two minutes to take it to the line.
The Bulldogs were up to the challenge, running all over the Kangaroos with the next four goals, including two from Shane Biggs.
Even more impressively, Luke Beveridge’s side achieved the result on a six-day break coming back from Perth, giving them huge confidence for the finals series ahead.
If they can finish the season with a win over last-placed Brisbane next week, the Bulldogs are set to host an elimination final.
That could well come against the Kangaroos, who at least started well in defender Michael Firrito’s 250th match.
Drew Petrie’s goal and spectacular step-ladder mark highlighted a tight first quarter which ended one goal apiece.
When Brent Harvey and Petrie kicked majors to open the second quarter, the Roos were on track to continue their fine winning streak.
But the Bulldogs surged back into the contest through tremendous pressure and fast ball movement.
Best-afield Marcus Bontempelli began a run of five straight goals to Luke Beveridge’s side while the Kangaroos stayed stranded on 3.8.
Johannisen’s goal-square leap and conversion early in the third term confirmed the switch of momentum.
The Kangaroos responded, with Higgins drawing boos from the crowd as he kicked a fine running goal.
It was the Bulldogs’ turn to waste their chances, kicking five straight behinds to keep North within range.
But in the final term, the Bulldogs surged when it mattered most to grow their Etihad Stadium winning streak to nine matches.