Western Bulldogs star Jake Stringer has soared from horrid to hero in a scrappy 10-point AFL win over Richmond.
Stringer kicked four goals, all after he was dragged from the ground in Saturday night’s third term, as the Bulldogs shook off the Tigers’ determined challenge and won 12.13 (85) to 11.9 (75).
The lead changed five times in a pulsating last quarter, with Stringer kicking the last two goals of the match to ensure the win after the Bulldogs trailed by seven points at the last break.
Bulldogs midfielder Tom Liberatore was taken to hospital during the match for suspected internal injuries, leaving them one man down on the bench throughout the second half.
It was a much-improved performance from Richmond, but the ‘Dogs benefited as the game opened up in the last term.
While the Tigers were also cruelled by two dubious 50m penalties against them early in the last quarter, ultimately the Bulldogs had too much run.
Stringer was having a bad night when coach Luke Beveridge brought him from the ground in the third quarter and put him on the phone for a chat.
The Bulldogs’ star quickly responded with a third-term goal and he then kicked three in the last quarter to prove the difference.
Richmond midfielder Dustin Martin further enhanced his Brownlow Medal claims with an outstanding 38-possession game.
Turnovers were killing Richmond as they went goal-for-goal with the Bulldogs, who led by two points at the first change.
But every time it looked like the Bulldogs were ready to take control, the Tigers hit back.
With Martin and Trent Cotchin prominent through the midfield, Richmond led by 12 points in the middle of the second term before two goals gave the Bulldogs a one-point lead at the main break.
The Bulldogs were playing well below their best and they lost Liberatore when he was crunched in the second quarter.
He was able to limp from the field, but his Brownlow Medal-winning father Tony visited him in the dressing rooms and eventually an ambulance was called.