When the biggest of moments arrived in Saturday’s epic AFL grand final, nothing was going to stop Dale Morris.
Not cracked vertebrae. Not a rampaging Lane Franklin. Nothing.
With less than six minutes remaining and the Bulldogs holding on to a nine-point lead, Franklin took possession and looked certain to send the Swans into attack.
Morris was having none of it.
The 91kg defender – who has successfully fought above his weight throughout a 12-year, 230-game career with the Dogs – stopped the 106kg Swan in his tracks with a bone-crunching tackle,.
The ball spilled to big Bulldog Tom Boyd, who capped his finest game for the club with his third goal – a booming effort from inside the centre square.
Feisty Bulldog Liam Picken kicked the final goal of the game a couple of minutes later to blow the margin out to 22 points.
But it was Morris’s tackle and Boyd’s long-range major which signalled that the club’s 62-year wait for a second flag was finally over.
“I thought Buddy was going to take off on me,” said Morris.
“I was cramping in both calves but I didn’t want to let him go.
“That’s the way it unfolded.
“You get the tackle and and the turnover and Boydy slots the goal.
“He really stood up for the club.”
Morris revealed he had hurt his back in the final home and away round, an injury the club had managed to keep out of the public domain throughout the finals.
“I may have (broken my back) in the last game against Freo, but who cares now,” he told Channel 7.
“Everyone plays through injuries.
“I talked to the fitness staff, the (doctors) and all the rest of it and we go through things and they assured me nothing can get worse.”
Boyd picked the perfect time to prove that the Bulldogs had done the right thing when they lured him from GWS two years ago on a contentious six-year, $6 million deal.
The 21-year-old took eight marks, six of them contested, had 15 possessions and was just shaded by teammate Jason Johannisen for best afield honours.
“Everything I’ve heard from everyone at the Bulldogs has always been super-supportive,” said Boyd.
“They know we’re building something and maybe it came quicker than all of us expected but we got the job done.”
Boyd had complete faith that Morris would stick the tackle on Franklin, opening the door for him to kick the game-breaking goal.
“The big Bud was streaming down through the middle but I’ve never seen anyone break through a Dale Morris tackle yet,” he said.
Boyd was also instrumental in last weekend’s preliminary final victory over the Giants, when he was forced to shoulder the vast majority of the ruckwork after Jordan Roughead was forced off early with an eye injury.
With Roughead back in the lineup on Saturday, Boyd was able to spend more time in the attacking 50m arc.
“The finals style of footy, the contested style of footy, it really suits me,” he said.
“I’ve always loved playing in these sorts of games.”