Dogs shake off conservative AFL play - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dogs shake off conservative AFL play

By Roger Vaughan 15/05/2011 07:44:45 PM Comments (0)

Conservatism is out of place in western Melbourne, whether it's politics or how the Bulldogs play in the AFL.

Club No.1 ticket holder and federal member for Lalor Julia Gillard watched her team snap a three-game losing streak on Sunday, as the Western Bulldogs played with much more flair and daring.

The Bulldogs caught Richmond by surprise in the first quarter and then withstood the Tigers' comeback to win by 35 points at Etihad Stadium, 23.15 (153) to 18.10 (118).

While the Dogs were far from perfect, it was their best performance so far this season, and relieved growing pressure on a team who had been regarded as premiership contenders.

"Players have been stuck in conservative mode for a while," coach Rodney Eade said of his team.

"Last week (an eight-point loss to Sydney) really hit home how conservative we'd become, so we needed to lift in two areas - one, to be able to put some pressure on, especially in our forward line. And we pushed up, I think the guys were terrific ... caused three or four goals.

"Also, the way we play when we have the footy, we have to move the ball a bit more quickly than what we've done and we did that today.

"The confidence has been down a bit and I think we need to spend a bit to make a bit."

With first-choice forwards Barry Hall and Shaun Higgins likely to return next week from injury, the Bulldogs turned to unlikely goal scorers.

Utility Lindsay Gilbee was best on the field with six goals, his best AFL return, and Will Minson also kicked four.

In the midfield, Callan Ward was outstanding and ruckman Ben Hudson had his best game of the year.

As the scores suggest, it was a free-flowing game under the Etihad Stadium roof, and the game total of 41 goals was well above the season average of 26.

The Bulldogs were far from perfect, but Eade said he was not overly concerned with Richmond's high score because his defenders had been prepared to run more and take risks.

The Bulldogs led by 52 points early in the second term, before the Tigers kicked eight of the next nine goals to reduce the deficit to only 12 points.

But everything had to go right for Richmond to hit the lead and, perhaps inevitably, the Dogs steadied.

They kicked six of the next seven goals to ensure the win.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick praised his team for their fight, but said the Tigers leaked too many goals.

He was particularly unhappy that three or four opposition goals could have been stopped on the goal line.

Hardwick also admitted the Bulldogs had initially caught Richmond off guard.

"We scouted them, thinking they would probably play a little bit similar to last week, but they completely threw it all around and it probably took us a little bit long to react," he said.

Hudson will come under video review for a late challenge on opponent Angus Graham in the last term.

But Eade was hopeful about the match review panel finding.

"I was (concerned) when it happened, then I saw the slo-mo and I thought he seemed to check himself," Eade said.

Adding to Richmond's woes, midfielder Shane Edwards suffered a depressed cheekbone fracture early in the match.

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