The Western Bulldogs have staved off Adelaide’s last-quarter fightback to win a pulsating AFL match by 15 points.
Crows key forward Josh Jenkins kicked his eighth goal on Saturday night to bring his team to within three points with less than two minutes left.
But a booming 50m goal from Marcus Bontempelli and Bailey Dale’s accurate kick on the final siren confirmed the 18.15 (123) to 17. 6 (108) at Etihad Stadium.
While it was another great match from the two teams, following 2015’s elimination final win by Adelaide, the umpiring cruelled the Crows.
The free kick count was 20-5 in the Bulldogs’ favour at three-quarter time, and it was 28-11 for the match.
Late in the game, a pass from the Crows’ Eddie Betts was marked by Rory Sloane in front of goal, but the umpire called played on, saying it was not a 15m kick.
But Adelaide also had themselves to blame – ruckman Sam Jacobs gave away a 50m penalty early in the last quarter that led to a Bulldogs goal.
The Bulldogs looked to have Adelaide’s measure, leading by 36 points early in the second term and then 25 points after Jake Stringer kicked a 50m goal at the start of the final quarter.
But the Crows, despite several key players having quiet nights, were able to work their way back into the game and nearly pulled off a stunning win.
Acting Bulldogs captain Easton Wood was outstanding, taking 11 marks and restricting Betts to just 12 possessions and no goals.
Stringer, accused of selfish play in last week’s narrow loss to North Melbourne, bounced back with an impressive match.
He kicked four goals, had five score involvements and was a massive headache for Adelaide’s defence.
Stringer played out the match despite appearing to suffer a corked thigh in the second term.
Jenkins’ eight goals were a career-best haul, while Crows midfielder Matt Crouch and forward Tom Lynch had 24 disposals apiece.
MORE TO COME