Bulldogs outlast Freo to delight Darwin - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bulldogs outlast Freo to delight Darwin

By Tim Clarke 16/06/2007 11:23:59 PM Comments (0)

Western Bulldogs have outlasted a tiring Fremantle to record a vital mid-season win, posting a 22.9 (141) to 16.19 (115) victory at a raucous TIO Stadium in Darwin.

Enjoying parochial support in their appointed home away from home in the Northern Territory, the Bulldogs did not disappoint, kicking a hatful of goals and fighting off a determined Freo challenge in the process.

Leading by a single point at three-quarter time, Bulldogs' skipper Brad Johnson again showed his class with five goals and a vital hand in several others - including the crucial first of the last term to the excellent Scott West.

Aided and abetted Adam Cooney, West and Matthew Boyd, Johnson marshalled the forward line brilliantly against the valiant efforts of Scott Thornton to stop him.

And despite the continued resurgence of Freo's Peter Bell with 34 possessions - and a three-goal third term from Matthew Pavlich - the Dockers failed to capitalise on their best-ever start against the Bulldogs to enter the mid-season break in the precarious position of 5-7.

In incendiary conditions, with temperature still at 26 degrees C despite the evening bouncedown, both teams put on a first quarter of hot goalkicking, a dozen majors spread throughout eleven players.

Only Chris Tarrant could find the big sticks more than once, thanks to a hanger over Brian Harris, allowing his side to edge the quarter by 13 points,

But with several chances in the second term to place more pressure on the Dogs, the Dockers held their own but could not kick away.

After losing the services of Matthew Carr, after he was knocked out while pinned in a Jordan McMahon tackle, the visitor's almost suicidal pace in the first quarter ebbed in each successive term, as did their lead.

As they did in the opening seconds of the game, the Bulldogs opened the second half with two quick goals to wrestle the lead away from the Dockers - until Pavlich opened up his body for his first.

That began a see-sawing third term that looked to have gone the Bulldogs way, until Pavlich's third for the term after the siren brought the margin to a single point.

With opposing skippers seemingly holding the key, Johnson's mark and even better pass to West early in the final term raised the stakes.

And although Dean Solomon and Des Headland both kicked goals to keep Freo hanging onto the Dogs' tails, Jason Akermanis' feel for the dramatic kicked in.

Delighting the parochial locals, who had cheered his every touch despite there not being many, the former Lion banged two through from opposite pockets to reaffirm the Dogs' top eight ambitions.

Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade hailed the win as one of his side's bravest in years, given the opposition and the oppressive conditions.

"It was just a gutsy win. From quarter time ... our work rate lifted. Our pressure was better than theirs, and we started to run and carry the ball," Eade said.

"I think with the conditions and the fact Fremantle said publicly their season was on the line ... for us to find a way to win, it was as good a win as this club has had for a long time.

"But teams are going to knock each other off, and I think it is going to go down to the wire."

Fremantle coach Chris Connolly agreed another loss on the road placed his club in a precarious position.

"We had our chances, we have gone inside 50 enough, deep enough, had enough scoring shots. We were in front by two and half goals at times and couldn't seal that next goal," Connolly said.

"It puts us in a precarious situation at 5-7 but we have got six of the last ten at home and we have got some players coming back into the team.

"There have been three chances against teams in good form and we just haven't gone on with it. That is the next step for us.

"We set ourselves up losing the first three ... and we need to take another step in the second half of the season."

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