Slick Dogs sink Dockers with early blast

A withering opening burst from the Western Bulldogs set up a 65-point win over Fremantle at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The slick Dogs made the dazed Dockers look like they were running in wet sand as they set up the 15.13 (103) to 5.8 (38) win with a stunning opening salvo.

The Bulldogs had winners across the ground.

Jason Johannisen and Shane Biggs led the way with 35 disposals, Jake Stringer booted five goals and Easton Wood, who took a spectacular intercept mark in the third term, was composed in defence along with Rob Murphy.

From the moment Marcus Bontempelli’s opening goal sailed through with barely 20 seconds elapsed until the quarter-time siren sounded with shell-shocked Fremantle 41 points in arrears, the Dogs were irresistible.

Tom Liberatore had a hand in that goal then was swamped by jubilant teammates when he kicked one of his own soon after in his first game since 2014.

The star onballer missed the Dogs’ barnstorming run to the finals in Luke Beveridge’s first year as he recovered from a knee reconstruction and celebrated his return with 25 possessions.

But where the Dogs dazzled, the Dockers looked out of sorts from the outset with Matthew Pavlich then Hayden Ballantyne missing simple set shots in the first quarter as their side went inside the forward 50 just six times.

Nat Fyfe was indicative of Fremantle’s malaise, the Brownlow medallist managing just six possessions to halftime before finishing with 15 touches.

To make matters worse for Freo, Pavlich faces a nervous wait to see how the match review panel assesses a front on bump on Wood in the second quarter.

The margin was 50 points at halftime and Ross Lyon might find some solace in the way his side fought back into the contest.

With Aaron Sandilands missing through suspension and Pavlich, Fyfe and David Mundy not having their usual influence, the Dockers outscored the Dogs in the third term to trail by 40 points at three-quarter time.

Pavlich pulled the margin back to 34 points with his only goal of the day early in the final term but the Dogs made one final push, kicking the last five goals of the contest to celebrate an impressive win in front of 27,832 fans.

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