The Western Bulldogs appear destined to play in the AFL finals in Luke Beveridge’s first year in charge after they overcame Collingwood by 18 points at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
The Magpies kicked the first three goals of a tense last quarter to trail by just 11 points, but the Dogs held their nerve to post their 10th win of the season – 15.14 (104) to 13.8 (86).
The result strengthened the Bulldogs’ hold on sixth spot and consigned Collingwood to their fifth loss in a row, leaving them a game outside the eight.
Matthew Boyd was outstanding for the Dogs with 38 possessions and he was well-supported by Liam Picken (33 disposals) and Lachie Hunter (32), while Tory Dickson booted four goals.
Dane Swan (33 touches), Steele Sidebottom (33) and Scott Pendlebury (29) impressed for the `Pies, but Darcy Moore was the shining light up forward with five goals in just his third AFL game.
Pendlebury scored the opening goal of the game before most of the 40,581 fans had found their seats but the Bulldogs quickly found their rhythm in a first quarter played at breakneck pace.
Dickson was important with his first two goals of the match as the Dogs opened up a 13-point lead at the first break.
With leading goal kickers Travis Cloke and Jamie Elliott out injured, Collingwood needed to find new avenues to goal and Moore, switched from defence to attack, and Levi Greenwood stepped up with their first goals in black-and-white.
Hunter was influential for the Bulldogs with 20 first-half possessions but it was still anyone’s game at halftime, with Luke Beveridge’s side up by 11 points.
The frenetic pace of the first half gave way to a stalemate early in the third term but it was the Dogs who broke the deadlock.
Two goals in as many minutes helped the margin out to 26 points and, despite Moore’s second and third majors at the other end, the margin remained at 26 when Stewart Crameri goaled from a free kick after the three-quarter time siren.
Things started to unravel for the Dogs as the `Pies came out strongly, with Michael Talia’s ill-discipline gifting Jesse White a goal.
But Mitch Wallis calmed frayed nerves with a settling goal that effectively ended Collingwood’s charge.