R10 – Western Bulldogs v GWS – The Prophet’s Perceptions


This is one of the clashes I always keep an eye out for when fixtures are released. Since the 2016 Prelim, there has often been spice in these contests – even with the Dogs winning the majority of these matches. Could the Giants regain some form or would the Dogs walk away with four points again? Much is at stake in this one, for both sides, and the trajectory of their seasons. How did things play out? I’m the Prophet, and these are my Perceptions.


All at Sea

The tsunami is faltering. From early in the game, the Dogs had control. While accurate kicking kept the Giants in the game – even leading for much of the first half – the Dogs dominated clearances and field position. Whenever they took it forward, they would just luck the ball in, forcing an almighty scrap for the footy.

The Giants are at their best when they can spread the ground, and move the ball fluently. Passages allowing this were few and far between today. Not only were the Dogs midfielders in control around the ball, their defensive setup made it really difficult for the Giants to get out the back, or to find targets out of their defensive half. At one point in the first half, the Giants had 25 defensive half chains, for only four inside 50s.

You can put it down to conditions, but you can also be sure that the structure that the Dogs applied will help other teams build a blueprint for stifling what the Giants can do with ball in hand.


Celebrating the Veterans

Several players had significant milestones in today’s game. All are journeymen, who give their all to the club they represent.

We start will inaugural Giant and former Dog Callan Ward, the OG cement head, in game 300. What a champion this man is. He’s as hard as nails, and you know the effort you will get from him every time he steps onto a football field. Today, he was tasked with shadowing Marcus Bontempelli. For a mere mortal, that is a difficult and confronting task. For Ward, this was all part of the day’s work.

The Giants did away with the tag at three quarter time, but up until that point, Bont had managed just 10 disposals. Ward did his utmost for his club today and continues to show why veterans, with the experience they possess, are so valuable to any football club. He did have a moment to forget in the second quarter as he broke from a defensive half stoppage and kicked the ball in the wrong direction, straight to Rhylee West inside his 50, and then finished with a goal.

Joining him on the milestone list, was Jesse Hogan, in game 150. We’ve all likely read of his on-field and off-field challenges throughout his career, and his story is one of sheer determination, resilience, and the ability to defy critics. He is playing some of the best footy in his career, and is firmly in the frame for the Coleman Medal and All-Australian selection.  He finished with 14 disposals and three goals. One of his highlights was a great tackle late in the second quarter that set up a shot at goal. Shortly after, he took an excellent contested mark in the goal square to slot his third. Much like his side, Hogan wasn’t able to impact much in the second half – through no fault of his, mind you.

And the third of the milestone men is Taylor Duryea. The former Hawk played game 200 today. He is your blue collar defensive rock. He many not be the most aesthetically pleasing player to watch at times, but he is reliable, and has built a career on beating his opponent, halving contests, and giving his side the best chance of retaining or winning the ball.


Clearance Battle

Clearances can be an overused statistic and one that can lie about the productivity of sides sometimes. However, today, the dominance that the Bulldogs had around the ground in general stoppages was stark and setup their game. While the Giants won the centre clearances 10-5, the Dogs were +13 in stoppage clearances, finishing +8 for the game. Outside of Tom Green, who had a ten-minute patch in the second term, which coincided with the Giants having the best run of momentum they had for the match, their midfield struggled with the brutality of the Dogs, and their spread on the outside. Ed Richards, stepping up in the absence of Tom Liberatore, was masterful around the ball. With ten clearances, nine inside 50’s, 27 disposals, and 12 contested possessions, Richards really setup the game for his side, alongside Adam Trealor with a game high 35 disposals, game high 23 contested possessions, and six clearances. Both of these men were instrumental in what the Dogs did today.

Tom Green battled hard around the ball for the Giants, almost playing a lone hand (29 disposals, 6 clearances, 14 contested possessions). On the outside, Lachie Whitfield led his side in disposals with 31 and was trying to give his side opportunities to move the ball, but was limited well.

All in all, the game was a genuine contest for most of the first three quarters, with the Dogs really burning the Giants in the final quarter. This is a good win for the Dogs, and a reminder of what they can do on their day.


Other Things

Bad kicking is bad football – or so the saying goes. The Dogs belied that notion today, even with doing their utmost to let the Giants back in with their inaccuracy. The Dogs finished with 30 scoring shots – something they will be pleased with. However, only kicking eight goals will perhaps lead to some more time in front of the sticks at training this week.

Jack Buckley continues to grow as a footballer. His first quarter today shows what he is capable of. He can win the ball in the air and on the ground, seldom gets pushed off his line, and competes well. He was hampered through the second half after an early knock, but he continues to grow.

Aaron Naughton only finished with the one goal, but was influential throughout the game. A bit like his side, he was a bit of a mixed bag today, missing a relatively straightforward set shot inside two minutes to go in the second quarter. His response? Winning a ground ball after the kick in, fending off a would be tackler, and hitting up Sam Darcy (who is becoming an ominous presence each week) to kick truly after the half-time siren. The AstroNaught showed his skill set today. While he can be infuriating for Dogs fans at times, he generally makes very good decisions.


What Did We Learn?

Giants – where has the orange tsunami gone? I know that the Giants are missing some personnel, but they are being bullied around the ball, and are struggling considerably with their ball movement and transition from defence. They have a great list and a bunch of players who are competitors. And, if 2023 is anything to go by, they can flick the switch and get on a run. They need to fix a few things, though, in the coming weeks, if they are going to be seen in the top handful of teams again.


Dogs – on their day, they have all the tools to dismantle any opposition. They are the genuine Jekyll-Hyde of the AFL. Losing to Hawthorn a few weeks ago, to dismantling the Giants on their home deck is a stark difference in output. With four successive games at Marvel Stadium, you would think that the Dogs are in a great position to really consolidate their position before the bye, and then launch into the back part of the season. We know what to expect from the Dogs, and when they’re on, they are fun to watch.


It wasn’t the pinnacle of our great game today, but the Dogs did more than enough to quell the Giants and remind everyone of their credentials as big game players. They look ahead to Thursday night at Marvel Stadium as they host the ladder-leading Swans, while the Giants travel down to Kardinia Park next Saturday – a venue that holds no fear to them – to face the struggling Cats. That’ll be very interesting as both teams need a win.