R14 – Western Bulldogs v Fremantle – Ten Points of Interest

There was plenty riding on this game, as the Dogs welcomed Freo to Marvel Stadium, and it delivered… particularly if you follow the boys from the Whitten Oval.

It was called an eight-point game, with both teams in the window for finals, and even able to push for top four should things go their way. With a fast start, kicking three unanswered, it looked as though the Dogs were on, but Freo fought back, kicking the next four and playing some great rebound footy.

It set the tone for the day – the Dogs loved the work in close, and the Dockers wanted the footy on the outside. It was only when the Bulldogs restricted the run of Freo that they took complete control.

The Dogs cruised to a 67-point win on the back of an inspired second half, kicking 14 goals to seven, as the game opened up, but you know how you always hear commentators saying you’d rather lose by a big amount trying to win that shut up shop and accept loss as an inevitability? That rung true in this game, as Freo dropped their guard in an effort to stay in the game, and it didn’t quite work out.

Bont was spectacular. I am sure you’ll read of it all over the place, but in case you missed it, he came into this game having been ill during the week. Whilst he is not exactly Michael Jordan and this isn’t the NBA Finals, it is that time of year, and the Bulldogs’ skipper put on a blinder, with 30 touches and three goals. More on him later.

Combine his efforts with his forwards working to shut down the intercept game of the usually dominant Fremantle defence, and you have the perfect recipe for a win.

Let’s jump into The Mongrel’s Ten Points of Interest



What can you say about this bloke that hasn’t been said before?

He has eleven toes? The palms of his hands are hairy? I’m pretty sure nobody has said those things, but in terms of his prowess on the footy field, the man is a maestro, and he conducted a symphony that made the Dogs supporters stand and cheer in this one.

Playing on Freo’s emerging big midfielder, Hayden Young, Bont took him to school int eh first half, with 15 disposals and two goals to his name at the main break.

To his credit, Young fought back after halftime, winning the footy out of the centre several times, but the damage was done, and it was like watching a baby zebra fight back against a lion.

Bont was ferocious in this one, his performance punctuated with a brilliant goal, as he fought off both Alex Pearce and Luke Ryan to win the footy, turn, and snap under immense pressure. There are goals that are kicked that are freakish – we saw one later from Harvey Gallagher when he hacked one out of the air, but for pure determination and footy brilliance, Bont’s goal is just about goal of the year to this point of the season.

He was everything you’d want from a leader in this game. Compare it to Jordan’s flu game if you want – I reckon that’s a stretch – but in and of itself, this was a standout game from one of the best footballers in the business, and it was a pleasure to watch.



The Fremantle defence has been a brick wall all season, and with Aaron Naughton on the sidelines, Docker fans would have been hoping that their big three of Pearce, Ryan, and Clark – all of whom should be in conversations around All-Australian selection – could control the game and shut down the marking power of the Dogs.

But with Bont going forward, Rory Lobb coming back to haunt them, and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan starting to find some form, the Freo back six found themselves under constant pressure.

This was exacerbated by the Dogs’ attention to detail when it came to Luke Ryan.

Ryan has been permitted to run his own race at points, this season, including the last time the Dogs and Dockers locked horns.

Looked like Bevo learnt something, huh?

Rhylee West spent the majority of the game matched up against Ryan, and when he was resting, someone always made sure to go to Ryan and make him accountable.

The result?

Aside from four goals to West, Ryan was restricted to six rebound fifties for the game – five of those came from playing on after kicking in. He also managed just five intercepts, as he had to contend with someone flying with him, and stopping his free run at the ball.

Team will be looking at the way the Dogs stifled the effectiveness of Ryan. He is a lock for a half-back flank role in the AA team at this point, but if teams follow the Dogs’ example, we could see that change over the next month of footy.



One of the most valuable commodities in the AFL at the moment comes in the form of a small forward who is a threat at all times, not just when the ball hits the deck. And right near the top of the heap when it comes to that role is Cody Weightman.

Returning from surgery on his troublesome elbow, he was immediately amongst it, giving Brandan Walker plenty to think about as he slotted the first of the game.

Walker tried to stretch Weightman, by working off him to provide a running option, and definitely had some good moments, but as the game progressed, Weightman continued to provide a viable target inside fifty, finishing with three goals as part of the Western Bulldogs’ avalanche.

If healthy, where would Weightman sit in terms of small forwards in the game?

He is probably more akin to Jamie Elliott than he is Charlie Cameron at the moment, as he is a solid marking player, and with a string of games, I reckon we may see him start to get more recognition for what he provides to this forward six.

Looking at these two teams, a player like Weightman on the Fremantle side of things would go a long way to making them a better team.



Bont is going to get the headlines, and rightfully so, but as the Dogs dropped the hammer on Freo, I had one name circled in my notes.

Bailey Dale tore up the second quarter, and was the catalyst for the Dogs being able to establish a lead. He had 13 disposals in that stanza, alone, working off half-back to provide plenty of run through the middle. He had four intercepts and five score involvements for the quarter, as he relentlessly made Freo pay for any errant disposal.

Yes, goal kickers and mids with big numbers tend to get the chocolates when the Brownlow votes get cast, but the work of Dale from defence helped turn the game for the Dogs, and deserves to be recognised.



You ever want to see a team use the work of the opposition ruckman against him?

Watch the Dogs operate in this game – you’ll see it.

I’ll get into the ruck duel in a little bit, but I have to touch on it here in order to accurately paint the way the Bulldog midfielders owned the contest. Sean Darcy was dominant in the first quarter, taking away Tim English’s space and winning the taps. However, as soon as he did, the Bulldogs were on the move.

Tom Liberatore was at his best, reading the taps from Darcy to pick up a game-high ten clearances, whilst Bont and Treloar combined for 12 between them, as well.

And it wasn’t just the number of clearances – it was the quality. The Dogs were immediately on the offence, with forward handballs releasing teammates into space, whilst the Dockers found themselves working around the back of stoppages way too often. By the time Hayden Young started to win some meaningful clearances, the game was decided.

Freo evened things up later, with Young and Caleb Serong finding the ball at stoppages, but those were consolation clearances, in my book,. The big ones were won by Libba, Bont, and Treloar early.



The reigning All-Australian ruckman was up against it in this one, and early on, I have to admit… he looked like he was going to be beaten by the Darcy/Jackson combination.

As the first quarter ended, I felt that Darcy was out-muscling him and Jackson was outworking him around the ground. Really, that doesn’t leave a lot of areas for Tim to win, does it?

But we have to give English credit – his greatest asset is the way he works. He continues to push, and in a contest where he was being double-teamed like Joe Ganino every second Thursday, his work ethic came to the fore as the game progressed.

It was English working to take nine marks for the game, whilst his opponents combined for four between them. He was working to kick two goals, matching the output of Jackson, and he continually bobbed up as an option around the ground.

He started slow, got better as the game progressed, and in the end, was likely the best big man on the ground (outside the Lobbster).

I’m not sure you could ask for anything more from him, given the quality of the opposition.



I love a good redemption story, and if anyone needs one in the AFL, it would be Rory Lobb.

He has been the subject of ridicule, and has been maligned by supporters of his former teams and even his current one, as stories of his imminent departure continue to do the rounds. There was only really one way for him to truly answer his critics, and that was to deliver on the field.

And that’s what he did in this game.

Finishing with 19 disposals and three goals, Lobb played the type of role the Dogs have been waiting for him to since they recruited him. He presented well in the air, and even when he didn’t take a contested grab, he was bringing it to ground to allow his teammates the second chance.

He finished with three contested grabs and 11 score involvements as he showed both Luke Beveridge and AFL fandom, in general, that he is still capable of being a solid contributor on a good side.’

With Aaron Naughton and Sam Darcy out, Lobb more than filled the void in this one, and even as a non-fan, I have to admit, it was good to see. As was his non-blonde hair style.



It was a hard watch when it came to the Fremantle forwards in this one. What started out looking ominous soon turned into a disappointment, as their young key forwards could simply not find their range.

The normally reliable Josh Treacy missed two very kickable goals from within 25 metres, with one of his shots seeing him appear to either kick the ground, or stumble as he executed the shot. Throw in Jye Amiss making a mockery of the ‘Deadeye Jye’ nickname that was bestowed on him in 2023, and you get a two-tiered forward combination that was pretty useless over the course of the game.

And it’s not just that they missed shots – they killed momentum, as well. Teams thrive on seeing their forwards finish off the work further afield, but if you get to a game and watch the reaction of players all over the field as their designated scorers waste opportunities, you see what it does to a team.

Both Treacy and Amiss need to reward the work of their teammates. They’re going to have an off day here or there, but they just have to make the most of the opportunities that come their way.

We put it down to a bad day for Treacy, as I have loved what I’ve seen from him this season, but what about Amiss? He looks like he is getting far too close to the man on the mark, and is generating no momentum through his set shot routine. He might need to be saved from himself and have someone give him a routine that allows him to get balanced and kick with some potency.

Right now, he is more cockeye than deadeye



Usually, those words have been centred around Freo’s Jeremy Sharp this season, but Lachie Bramble might lay claim to them after this weekend’s action.

Running off half-back, Bramble may have just completed the best game of his AFL career to date. With 30 disposals and 663 metres gained, any half-back in the league would love to numbers like that next to his name.

But there is another number that goes with them, making them more impressive. 93% efficiency.

Look, there are times where Champion Data really cock up the efficiency, as you see players with six or seven turnovers and they’re still at 90%, but Bramble had just two for the game. He was safe whilst being attacking. He was daring without being risky, and he was potent without getting anyone pregnant… that I know of.

Every year, big names switch clubs, but sometimes it is the diamonds in the rough that make a big difference, and on this day, Lachie Bramble shined brightest.



It won’t be much longer, if at all.

His vision is elite. A couple of times in this game, he managed to find space to deliver the footy where there appeared to be none. Whether he was pressed up against the boundary, or in the middle of a traffic jam, he found a way to extract the footy to a player in a better position, and did it in such a manner that his teammate wasn’t stuck there waiting for the footy.

I hate when that happens – a player funnels the footy out, and the recipient has that second where they’re a sitting duck (on that, how lucky was Jamarra not to be killed by Luke Ryan at one stage!). But when Richards does it, he hits his teammate in stride, and almost makes their next kick easier by setting them up for it.

He finished with three direct goal assists to go with his 21 touches and a goal in a polished performance, and in a team with no shortage of midfield options, he is fast becoming one of those you simply cannot leave out of the rotation.



As stated above, this could have degenerated into a scrap had Freo parked the bus. They didn’t, and tried to win it, and they paid the price. I wonder whether Justin Longmuir will cop the criticism for that?

He seems to cop it for just about everything.

The Dogs were slick, better by hand, and were far better in the contest when it mattered. 67 points over an opposition I rate pretty highly is a great win, and they now have to start stringing a few wins together followj gtheir bye in Round 15.

As for Freo, they welcome the Suns to Optius Stadium next week and should sense a live kill, given the Suns have not won on the road this season.


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