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Tom Boyd's great Grand Final coming of age

Callum Twomey (AFL Media)  October 5, 2016 12:22 PM

Boyd breaks out on the biggest stage (GF) The 21-year-old power forward was enormous on the big stage, booting three crucial goals.
AFL 2016 Toyota AFL Grand Final - Sydney v Western Bulldogs

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01: Tom Boyd of the Bulldogs celebrates during the 2016 Toyota AFL Grand Final match between the Sydney Swans and the Western Bulldogs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 01, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

TOM BOYD doesn't know if his coming-of-age performance in the Western Bulldogs' premiership win will silence his critics, but he's not concerned either way.

The 21-year-old key forward was outstanding in the Dogs' drought-breaking flag win, kicking three goals – including the last-quarter sealer – and grabbing eight marks in a dominant display in attack against the Sydney Swans.

The former Greater Western Sydney player, who was taken at No.1 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, has attracted criticism in his time at the Dogs.

But he praised the support of coach Luke Beveridge as a huge factor in his ability to perform on Saturday at the MCG in front of delirious Dogs fans.

"There's a lot of support out there, but there is a fair share of negative comments and I get a feel for the fact it's out there. But I really don't read it, I don't pay attention to it. It probably bothers mum and dad more than it does me," Boyd said.

"Luke has been extremely supportive of me and he's got great belief in all of us.

"People will always try to find negatives, but I hope they can see what we've done here and what we've been able to achieve is truly something remarkable from where we've come and the adversity we've faced this year."

“Dogs

Boyd faced a difficult second season with the Dogs, which included a shoulder injury and a club-imposed ban for an off-field late-night incident involving premiership teammate Zaine Cordy.

But his three-goal haul in the Grand Final was the third time this season he bagged three goals in a game, and the first time since round 22 he has hit the scoreboard. He knows he timed his run well.

"I had full faith in the medical staff, and they had full faith in my ability to rehab my shoulder and get it to where I needed it to be. We really took our time in the six weeks between round four and 10, and it held me in good stead for the rest of the year," Boyd said.

"From a stats and goals point of view it's probably not my best game for the club, but we live to play in Grand Finals and at the end of the day that's the most important time to stand up. I was glad I was just able to do my part today.

"It's all sinking in. It's been a really challenging year for the whole club and obviously for myself, but we just don't give up. The Bulldogs spirit was strong again today."

The Dogs' stunning premiership victory might be best epitomised by Boyd's late goal, which came after veteran Dale Morris had chased down Lance Franklin and dispossessed him of the ball.

Boyd swooped on the loose footy and kicked the goal from inside the centre square, giving the Dogs an unassailable 15-point advantage 21 minutes into the final quarter.

The club invested plenty in the high-priced and talented Boyd when they offered him a long-term and lucrative deal to swap clubs at the end of 2014, and the Bulldogs reaped the rewards.

"I saw 'Moz' chasing big Buddy down and 'Bud' had been fending blokes all day, but you don't get out of a Morris tackle. I thought I'd just wait for it to pop out and thankfully it did, and I was able to wheel around and hit the scoreboard," he said.

"I hit it pretty well. I was watching it on the screen and I felt pretty confident, but it popped up a little bit and ended up going through."