Western Bulldogs v Geelong - The Good, Bad and Ugly

In a ripping contest, it all came down to one kick, and in the end the Bulldogs walked away from Friday Night Footy with a two-point win over Geelong.

Here’s the Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.

 

THE GOOD

Mitch Wallis

Kudos to Wallis. In the last quarter, the Dogs went forward, and Wallis tried to spot up a teammate on the boundary. After last week, THAT was the option he took. It took guts, and though the ball dribbled out of bounds, it showed that Wallis wasn’t going to retreat into his shell and refuse to take a risk when things got tight.

It was Wallis running forward late in the game, refusing to lose his feet against potential All-Australian backman, Tom Stewart, and you could’ve forgiven him for grabbing that ball and throwing it on his boot towards goal. Hell, I know I probably would’ve panicked and just tried to get the ball forward, but Wallis didn’t.

He took his time, showed tremendous poise and went back outside 50 to Jason Johannisen, only to keep running and establish better position for the ball to be returned to him. He may have missed the attempted goal after marking JJ’s pass, but it led to Boyd thumping it into the goal square, and a tremendous goal by Billy Gowers.

Of course, when we’re talking about his good, we have to mention the bad as well – the dropped mark with Dangerfield bearing down on him in the second quarter… that was ugly.

Tom Hawkins

Hawkins threatened to tear this game apart at points.

His efforts in the third quarter kept the Cats in it. Many have criticised Hawkins’ style of play over the past several years, but he has been ultra-consistent this season and he ended with another three-goal haul… the sixth time in a row he has kicked that many goals in a game.

He had four marks inside 50 tonight, and was also responsible for two direct goal assists. Hawkins is really starting to look dangerous in the air, and is making many pundits eat their words with his play this season.

Billy Gowers

I’ve written about this guy before… are we convinced yet that Carlton would’ve been wise to hold onto this bloke?

Gowers has been fantastic for the Dogs this season. As so many soldiers went down, he stood up and emerged as a legitimate forward threat. What impresses me most about him is that he always seems to have a trick or two in his bag I haven’t seen yet.

Tonight, his ability to change direction suddenly both bought him time, and completely bamboozled opponents. He is 100 miles per hour all the time, and when he stops, it’s like he just has better brakes than everyone else.

He finished with 19 touches and a couple of goals tonight, and added another string to his bow with four clearances as well, but the crowning glory for Gowers was his ripping Daniel Wells-esque kick out of mid-air after the Tom Boyd punch back into play.

Joel Selwood

Selwood will never die wondering. He throws his body in so recklessly that it’s no wonder he gets so many free kicks. So many people level abuse at him for ducking, or dropping the knees, but when the ball is there to be won, you’d back him every time.

He made a couple of huge efforts late in the last quarter as he tried to will his team over the line, and he was a huge part of Geelong being in the position to pinch the game. He had 18 contested touches amongst his 34 disposals and was involved in eight scores on the night. His 10 clearances were four better than the next best on the ground, proving that he was there at the coalface again tonight, right where the Cats needed him.

Tim Kelly’s last quarter

When the Cats sit down and do their review of this game, one guy they won’t be pointing fingers at for not showing up in the last quarter is Tim Kelly.

The young fella accumulated 19 disposals in the thrilling last quarter, and provided some great run for the Cats, but it wasn’t enough.

Kelly is yet to re-sign with the Cats, and with both West Coast and Fremantle circling, his situation is an interesting one. They took a gamble on a guy those teams passed on several times, and they’d like this gamble to pay off.

Ed Richards

Press red for Ed! There was a time when a massive nuffie would want to do that, but now… well, when the Dogs needed a hero in the last quarter, the young man stepped to the fore.

I have no idea how he got so open that he could take his time and throw it on his boot to kick his third goal, but his second goal was a true thing of beauty. The way he summed up the situation, realised he wasn’t going to be able to grab the ball without being swamped by the three Cat defenders, and soccered it through showed a feel for the game many his senior simply don’t have.

Add to his three goals a wonderful tackle on Dangerfield in the third quarter, and you’ve got a young man who is putting his stamp on games in different ways.

THE BAD

Lin Jong late call up and early exit

Imagine being this poor bugger? You’re getting ready to go and sit in the grandstand, maybe have a nice night pretending to watch the boys play while you play Homescapes, Panda Pop, or Harry Potter – a Hogwarts Mystery on your phone, and you get the tap on the shoulder; you’re playing.

Matt Sucking didn’t come up and Jong took his place in the side. It lasted less than a quarter with a crunching tackle from Sam Menegola ending his night and looking as though he’d injured his shoulder.

That seat in the grandstand never looked so good.

James Parsons

I’ve watched this bloke a few times over the past few months, and to say I am underwhelmed would be an understatement.

He lacks desperation, he lacks urgency (which is kind of the same thing as desperation but I like to do these things in threes) and he lacks defensive intensity when he doesn’t get the ball. Moreover, he looks content to half a contest as opposed to winning it. I can’t see him staying in the side as the Cats get some troops back.

 

THE UGLY

The Miss

We’ve all seen it – what else can you say about it?

You’re either the hero, or you’re the dud, and tonight Harry Taylor was the dud, at least for that one kick. With a dozen Bulldogs jumping up and down on the mark, Taylor’s kick never looked like threatening to go through for a major.

That last shot at goal will garner a lot of media attention. It was the parting shot of a game that deserved to go out with a bang. Instead, it went out with a whimper… or a meow.

Taylor was excellent early on, but he did miss the easy one in the first quarter, and kick the hard one. He made it two goals early in the second quarter and in a forward line with Hawkins, looked prominent. He faded in the second half, but it wouldn’t matter if he kicked another four – people would only remember that last shot.

It pays to remember that Malcolm Blight completely botched game-winning chances. Stephen Kernahan did as well. It happens to the best of us. Tonight, it happened to Harry Taylor. It isn’t the be-all and end-all of the season, but it sure does inflict a bit of short-term pain.

OTHER BITS

Luke Dahlhaus had some excellent moments for the Dogs, but I was questioning some of his handball decisions early on, selling teammates directly into trouble. He redeemed himself as the game wore on, and I am sure his teammates appreciated him giving them an actual chance when he gave the ball to them.

A bit of a mare tonight for Jake Kolodjashnij. He had eight touches, and looked a bit lost at times as the Bullies turned the screws on him. He ran into trouble, gave away free kicks, and looked as though he ran out of options almost every time he touched it.

Liked what I saw from Narkle. Balance, poise and skill are three words that leap to mind when I think of his game.

The Bont was better tonight than I’ve seen him recently. He looked willing to do some of the real hard stuff as the game went on. He could’ve finished with four goals, but had 2.3. It was more the stuff like diving after the ball and handballing it off the ground to a running teammate that caught my eye. I also like the fact that he tackled, and tackled hard! I am a bit believer that the little things make good players great, and tonight, Bont did the little things well.

Of course, Bont taking contested marks in the goal square kind of add to his worth a fair bit, too.

I want to take a second to write about Tom Boyd. I think he was good tonight, particularly if we look at him on the Boyd-scale, which ranges from 2016 Grand Final at the top, all the way down to 2017 Bulldog at the bottom. Today he was well over the halfway point, but there are areas he needs to work on listed below.

1 – His Tank. Several times I watched him make one effort and WALK to the next contest. This allowed Rhys Stanley to get off the chain and actually look effective. Boyd was good in the middle of the ground but his inability, or unwillingness to run to the next contest are a real weakness. When Stanley marked the long Dangerfield kick to the goal square in the third, I couldn’t see Boyd anywhere. He may have been on the bench at that stage – I am not sure, but all I know is that Stanley had a clear run at that ball, and he clunked it.

2 – Ruckwork. Up until the last quarter, he was being consistently beaten in the ruck by Stanley. He battled back well, but there is no way Rhys Stanley should have 36 hit outs to Boyd’s 31. He had the opportunity to outmuscle a player who is not even a ruckman’s backside, and he didn’t capitalise tonight. He should’ve thrown that weight around and treated Stanley like Barry Hall treats well-paying radio gigs – with no respect!

3 – Tackling. This is going to sound crazy, but Boyd has the ability to impact contests the way Brodie Grundy does. But he has to want to. I watched players slip his tackles a couple of times tonight, and thought there would be no way Grundy would let them get away that easily. Maybe it has a lot to do with the above points, but it must frustrate the hell out of Dogs’ supporters to see someone with so much talent squander it, or at least not produce at the level he seems to be capable of. Again, I think he was good tonight… I just think he could be so much better.

Fairly decent effort tonight for Josh Schache. Finished with a couple of goals, but was really shown up in a footrace with Jack Henry in the second quarter. He ambled after it. Henry sprinted. Henry won. He also dropped two uncontested marks in the second quarter.

Loved Dangerfield’s one-on-two win on the far wing in the second quarter. A lot of players would’ve been content to see it over the line. Danger made the play… gotta love that.

Jason Johannisen's run in the last quarter was vital to the dogs. I have been critical of him at times both this year and last year, but hats off to him tonight. Great gut running.   

You guys can challenge me on this – I don’t mind, but I think Ablett’s disposals weren’t really damaging EXCEPT for the first quarter, and of course late in the game. As he was racking them up in the second and third, I thought many of them were the ‘nothing’ kind of touches he was criticised for amassing as part of the Suns.

Looks as though the Naughton as a forward experiment ground to a halt in the third quarter. He hardly touched it up forward this week, and was switched back late in the game.

The start of the third quarter was a complete disaster for the cats. They won the clearance and had seven touches before they were able to get the ball into their attacking half. They are the ‘nothing’ disposals I was talking about in regards to Ablett, and they had a fair few of them to open the third/.

Not sure Tuohy could’ve kicked it any better to the Bont if he tried as he kicked in board in the Cats’ back line. Just hit him right up.

The Geelong fightback in the third was admirable. The Dogs seemed primed to put the foot on their throat, but a hanger and goal to Hawkins seemed to right the ship.

Fantastic to see Marcus Adams back in the Dogs’ defence. He looks like a tree trunk with arms and legs… so; basically he looks like a tree. A trunk with limbs. I’ll be here all week…

I don’t think Bont has much to worry about with that high contact on Taylor. The impact looked so minimal that the worst he could get was a bit of a fine.

How good was it seeing Brad Lynch arch the back and take the game on, tonight? Great to see a young man back himself. He had a big win against Selwood at half back in the third to help repel a Geelong attack.

Murdoch left a couple of teammates howling mad (Sorry, 80s A-team joke there) when he fired from 45 on the run and didn’t consider them inboard in the last quarter.

And that’ll do for The Mongrel. It’s late, I’m tired and we still have a huge weekend of footy to make inaccurate assessments of. If you like what you’re getting from us, please give us a Like on Facebook or a Follow on Twitter. That’d be mighty fine of you.