A stunning nine-goal blitz by the Western Bulldogs, showing their ability to run and carry the ball at startling speed, has demolished Port Adelaide by 64 points in a 45-minute burst that effectively ends the Power’s AFL season.
The Dogs put up a complete performance, showing off their speed, attack and defensive pressure on Saturday as they smashed Port 19.14 (128) to 9.10 (64) at Etihad Stadium.
The Power couldn’t have made a better start, Jay Schulz kicking the opening goal inside the first minute, and two more goals with Chad Wingard involved in all, looked ominous for the Dogs.
When Justin Westhoff lined up for his second, and Port’s fourth goal of the quarter, the Power appeared to have all the ascendancy.
But from just 15 metres out, Westhoff missed and the Bulldogs went on the counter-attack. They moved the ball quickly to the other end and a pinpoint pass from Jake Stringer hit Jarrad Grant on the chest. The goal, at the 17-minute mark, was the Dogs’ first for the match and the start of an avalanche.
Their run and pressure was too much for the Power. The Dogs were too quick and used handballs to open up space and control the ball.
The Dogs kicked nine unanswered goals and conceded just six more majors for the match. They had winners all over the ground.
Their four key forwards, Jake Stringer (four goals), Jack Redpath (four), Tory Dickson (three) and Stewart Crameri (three), kicked 14 goals between them and stretched the Port backline out of the match.
Mitch Wallis was critical in the turnaround, grabbing control of the clearances, continually giving his team first use of the ball.
With skipper Robert Murphy and Jason Johannisen missing from the Dogs’ defensive end, others rose to the occasion. Easton Wood continued his strong season and Shane Biggs worked hard to get on top of Wingard, who looked set to tear the match apart early.