Will Minson put his formidable physical presence to much better use, playing a crucial role in the Western Bulldogs’ upset 45-point AFL win over GWS.
The Bulldogs ruckman capped a tumultuous week by negating in-form Giants opponent Shane Mumford on Saturday at Etihad Stadium.
With Mumford lacking his usual impact, the Bulldogs midfielders ran riot in the first term on the way to a convincing 16.17 (113) to 11.2 (68) win.
Minson was sent off in the VFL last Sunday for pushing an umpire, just as he was on the verge of returning to the senior team for the first time since round three.
The controversy then compounded when the VFL tribunal handed down a hefty four-game suspension.
The Bulldogs successfully appealed, with the penalty dramatically reduced to a fine and reprimand.
Minson channelled all the emotion into a great effort as he combined with Jordan Roughead.
While midfielder Mitch Wallis and defenders Matthew Boyd and Easton Wood had better games, Minson’s job was crucial.
“He really gave us a presence in there – him and ‘Roughy’ really worked well together,” Dogs coach Luke Beveridge said of Minson.
“Mumford has been a real powerhouse.
“He imposes himself physically and so I felt our rucks were able to their best to negate that.”
Giants coach Leon Cameron praised Mumford for never giving up but agreed Minson definitely had the better of the duel.
Cameron was far more disappointed that so many teammates did not follow Mumford’s lead.
“Shane is such a competitor – if he was going to go down, he’ll go down fighting.
“What our young players have to learn is that when Shane is beaten, he can still (hold) his head high because he still keeps on keeping on.
“Shane just kept on cracking in.”
The Bulldogs sealed the win and snapped a three-game losing streak by kicking eight goals to two in the first term.
It was a nightmare game for former Dogs captain Ryan Griffen, who was playing against his old team for the first time.
Liam Picken tussled with him before the first bounce and Griffen only had a season-low 10 possessions.
The other half of last year’s biggest trade, former Giants key forward Tom Boyd, only kicked one goal.
But Boyd was much better than last week, when he was ill and only played a half.
Beveridge was rapt with the Bulldogs’ response after they ended up making seven changes, with Jake Stringer a late withdrawal because of illness.
The Dogs had a scare in the third term when GWS reduced the margin to 23 points but that was the only point in the game when the result was remotely in doubt.
The Bulldogs kicked the last three goals of the term to ensure there would be no repeat of the round-six fadeout against St Kilda.
“You’re right – that was in the memory banks,” Beveridge said.
“We held our nerve.”
Young ‘Dogs star Marcus Bontempelli is in doubt for next weeks’ game against Port Adelaide after suffering an adductor strain in the third term.