Could the AFL’s Western Bulldogs be set to defy the odds once more, in their quest to become this year’s Premiers and win a third flag in their 96-year club history.
Only one team from outside the top four has gone on to win the grand prize this century, which was indeed the Doggies during that fantastic finals run back in 2016.
They will certainly rack up some miles if are to achieve it. Having defeated Essendon, last week, down in Tasmania, they travelled up to Queensland and were able to get over the line against Brisbane, by just a single point, in a thrilling contest.
In what proved to be a real nail-biter, under the lights at the Gabba, it looked like extra-time could be on the cards. However, in a frantic finale, Laitham Vandermeer (pictured below) soccered a behind, the winner, with less than a minute left to go.Embed from Getty Images
The result means that they will now face a trip to South Australia, having to travel via Perth for Covid reasons, where they will take on Port Adelaide next Saturday night.
Speaking on ground, post-siren, to Fox Footy, captain Marcus Bontempelli said “It’s what the game asks of us. We know what a quality outfit Brisbane are, especially here when the crowd is loud and pulsating as that. At certain points we thought we were going to extra time. I’m sure it was good viewing.”
He continued “That is finals, whoever can get to the line the best. This is a perfect example of what a finals game is like, we copped one or two punches and fire one or two back. You can’t be more proud of a game like that away from home, the last couple of days in a quarantine hotel. An important win.”
It was a tough result to take for the Lions who were excellent in front of their vocal home fans. It does mean, though, they go out in straight sets but coach Chris Fagan was quick to point out that it shouldn’t detract from what has been a good season.
Opposite number, Bulldogs’ Luke Beveridge was rapt with the performance; he said “It was one of those games. It was an incredible arm wrestle. There were instances in the game where both teams got momentum with the ball, spinning here in a missed tackle here in one there, we felt that someone was going to be fortunate enough and fortunately it was us.”
He added “It was a crazy game, the madness of the whole situation. There were times in the last quarter, trying to remember the detail in the email from the AFL what happens when it is a draw. Sometimes this game is really cruel and sometimes it’s beautiful. We were the lucky ones to feel the emotions of the latter. Brisbane have been remarkable in recent times, to beat such a formidable opponent in a big game, it ranks right up there.”
Geelong bounced back from the disappointment of last week and made the most of their ‘double chance’ as they advance to a Preliminary Final after defeating GWS.
Before a crowd of 44,091 at Optus Stadium, they were ahead for nearly the whole evening and really opened up an advantage, in the third, enroute to a 35-point win.
The Cats will now take on minor premiers and flag favourites Melbourne in a huge blockbuster game, next Friday evening, for a place in the showpiece event.
Captain Joel Selwood (pictured below) set a new all-time club games record of 333 appearances, surpassing Corey Enright, across a 14-year career in the hoops. The 33-year-old was given a standing ovation, guard of honour and chaired off the pitch.
Forward Tom Hawkins put in a star performance and booted five majors. Speaking, after the siren, to Channel 7 he said “It was hard-fought. We had trouble with GWS a couple of weeks before. I thought we were outstanding, led through the midfield, we had contributors all over the ground which we lacked last week. A pleasing effort for us, we keep our season alive and move on, stay in Perth.”
The Giants came into this game on the back of a difficult week that had been dominated in the media by the Toby Green tribunal, for making intentional umpire contact, which resulted in a three-game suspension and ruled him out of this contest.
This was in addition to being without the injured trio of Jesse Hogan (calf), Sam J. Reid (hamstring) and Tom Green (broken arm) that forced a number of changes.
They fought on valiantly and made a very bright opening to the final term, kicking three goals inside four minutes early on, to put themselves back in the hunt.
However, that prompted a reaction from Chris Scott’s men that were soon able to seize back the momentum and then went on to put in a strong finish to the game.
Speaking in the post-match presser, the coach said “We played better, we knew we needed to. I think I said pre-game we’ve been a consistent unit over a long period of time and have great confidence that our best footy is hard to beat. We were closer to that tonight. It was a bit of a circuitous route but we are where we want to be.”
“We needed to concentrate on what we do well and I thought we got back to that pretty well tonight. I say it regularly without going into detail, we strongly believe the three phases of the game have to fit together and if one is off it affects the others.”
Geelong 15.13 (103)
GWS 10.8 (68)
Brisbane 11.12 (78)
Western Bulldogs 11.13 (79)
AFL finals: Week 3 fixtures – Preliminary Finals
Friday 10 September – Melbourne v Geelong @ Optus Stadium (5.50pm)
Saturday 15 September – Port Adelaide v Melbourne @ Adelaide Oval (7.10pm)
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