THE Western Bulldogs have overturned a 13-point deficit midway through the final term to pip West Coast by seven points in a classic AFL contest at Marvel Stadium.
In a topsy-turvy game that included 14 lead changes, Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli iced the match with less than a minute remaining by calmly kicking his third goal in a heroic performance on Sunday.
Bontempelli was the difference, stepping up early and late to finish with 30 touches as the Bulldogs won 14.16 (100) to 14.9 (93).
Jermaine Jones put the Eagles back in front at the 27-minute mark with a roving goal in the square, but the Bulldogs hit back immediately through Aaron Naughton to reclaim the lead.
After West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui powered the visitors out of the middle for most of the game, the Bulldogs’ midfielders responded in the final term.
Bontempelli and the prolific Jack Macrae (40 possessions) were outstanding all match, but ex-Collingwood onballer Adam Treloar lifted late.
The Eagles appeared to be streaming away to a rousing victory when they piled on three quick goals just before three-quarter time to turn a seven-point deficit into a 12-point lead at the final change.
Josh Bruce was the Bulldogs’ most potent forward, with the former St Kilda tall capturing form to kick three majors in one of his better performances since joining the club ahead of last season.
West Coast’s forwards, led by the evergreen Josh Kennedy, took hold of the Bulldogs’ defence in an exciting display.
Kennedy, who has kicked more goals against the Bulldogs than any other club, was on fire with four goals, while the electric Liam Ryan slotted two and almost brought down multiple mark-of-the-year contenders.
Jack Darling (three), Oscar Allen and Jamaine Jones (two each) also caused havoc for the Bulldogs’ defenders.
The Bulldogs have five days to back up for a Good Friday clash with North Melbourne, while West Coast host ladder-leaders Port Adelaide at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.
(C) AAP 2021
WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.3 6.10 9.12 14.16 (100)
WEST COAST 3.2 6.3 12.6 14.9 (93)
Goals: Western Bulldogs: A Naughton 3 J Bruce 3 M Bontempelli 3 B Smith C Daniel J Dunkley L Vandermeer T English. West Coast: J Kennedy 4 J Darling 3 J Jones 3 L Ryan 2 O Allen 2.
Umpires: Simon Meredith, Ray Chamberlain, Brent Wallace.
Venue: Marvel Stadium.