The Western Bulldogs’ multi-million dollar forward Tom Boyd enjoyed a coming-of-age AFL performance on Saturday night in the club’s 72-point win over Brisbane.
Boyd kicked a career-high four goals, as the Bulldogs ran away with a 22.14 (146) to 11.8 (74) victory at Etihad Stadium.
The win brings the Bulldogs to the fringes of the top eight but condemns the injury-ravaged Lions to their fourth straight loss.
While fellow young gun Jake Stringer managed five majors, the evening belonged to the teenage colossus.
Boyd constantly troubled Brisbane, with a game-high four contested marks and several involvements in Bulldogs goals beyond his own.
Robert Murphy also sparkled, keeping the Bulldogs out of trouble and pushing them into attack.
The evergreen 33-year-old skipper was the match’s dominant force in the opening half when the Bulldogs couldn’t kick free of the Lions.
Jack Macrae and Mitch Wallis provided steel in midfield, while Luke Dahlhaus’ long kicking propelled the Bulldogs all night.
Luke Beveridge’s side were smarter and more organised than Brisbane, but the Lions run kept them in the contest.
The Bulldogs held a 21-point lead at halftime, but no one in the 21,129-strong crowd were comfortable, given the 55-point lead they gave up last month against St Kilda.
Rohan Bewick and Daniel McStay goals reduced the Lions’ deficit to nine points.
But any Bulldog nerves were eased with a four-goal burst in 10 minutes.
Wallis’ fine run down of Jack Redden and conversion arrested their slide, before a trio of Bulldog forwards carved open the match.
Stringer’s fine bouncing snap, Boyd’s goal line mark and Dahlhaus’ roving effort all resulted in goals to decide the contest.
The fourth quarter was party time for the Bulldogs, allowing Stringer to fill his bag and Marcus Bontempelli to mark his return to fitness with a goal.
The nine goal to three romp allowed the Bulldogs to post their biggest score in four seasons and push their percentage into positive territory.
For Brisbane, Stefan Martin shone in the ruck while Dayne Beams played a lone hand in midfield.
Daniel McStay, playing his first game for a month, kicked three goals.
But four losses in the past month – all to sides outside the top eight, by a combined tally of 184 points – is sure to concern coach Justin Leppitsch.