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Match report: Dogs rediscover their mojo

Nick Bowen (AFL Media)  July 16, 2017 6:15 PM

Highlights: Carlton v Western Bulldogs (Rd17) Relive Sunday's 20-point win over the Blues at the MCG.

THE WESTERN Bulldogs have kept their finals hopes alive, overcoming a slow start to beat Carlton by 20 points in a low-scoring scrap at the MCG on Sunday.

After the Blues rammed on three goals within the opening 10 minutes of the game, the Bulldogs answered with five consecutive goals of their own to take control of the contest.

When Marcus Bontempelli kicked the last of those goals with a brilliant around-the-body snap, the Bulldogs led by 16 points at the eight-minute mark of the second term.

After the Blues' opening burst, the Bulldogs held them to just another three goals in the next two-and-a-half quarters to take a comfortable 26-point lead into the final break.

Carlton kicked three more goals in the final term, but the Bulldogs were never seriously challenged as they ran out 12.10 (82) to 9.8 (62) winners.

Bontempelli (30 possessions, five clearances, two goals and six inside 50s) was outstanding for the Bulldogs, and was ably supported through the midfield by Jack Macrae (31 possessions, eight marks and six tackles) and Caleb Daniel (25 possessions), who was especially influential when the Bulldogs got on top in the second quarter.

Luke Dahlhaus (28 possessions) was also a prolific ball-winner, while Jason Johannisen (23 possessions and one goal) showed signs of a return to form after signing a lucrative five-year deal with the Bulldogs earlier in the week.

Debutant Lewis Young (21 possessions and nine marks) also made a strong impression in the Dogs' defence with his sure marking.

The Bulldogs will face sterner tests in the run-in to the finals, with games against Essendon, Greater Western Sydney and Port Adelaide to come in the final six rounds, but Sunday's win brought them within a game of eighth-placed St Kilda.

The Dogs' day was soured by what appears to be a hamstring injury to Jake Stringer.  The forward clutched his left hamstring as he ran towards a contest early in the second quarter and did not return.

Bryce Gibbs (32 possessions, eight clearances and one goal) and Matthew Kreuzer (13 possessions, five clearances and 50 hit-outs) again led from the front for Carlton,

Kade Simpson (23 possessions and seven rebound 50s) provided a cool head in defence, while Liam Jones continued the career renaissance that was rewarded with a new two-year deal earlier on Sunday.

Carlton got off to a fast start, kicking the game's first three goals through Charlie Curnow, Levi Casboult and Blaine Boekhor

The Blues stretched their lead to 17 points soon after when Jack Silvagni kicked a behind from a set shot.

The Bulldogs broke the Blues' run three minutes later, when Carlton defender Jacob Weitering kicked directly into Jack Macrae's outstretched hands as the Bulldog midfielder attempted to smother his kick. Macrae then handballed to Lachie Hunter in the goalsquare and the Bulldogs had their first major.

Stringer added another goal for the Bulldogs at the 20-minute mark to help reduce Carlton's lead to four points at the first break.

The Dogs carried that momentum into the second term, kicking three unanswered goals in the first eight minutes – through Toby McLean, Mitch Honeychurch and Bontempelli – to jump to a 16-point lead.

Bryce Gibbs hit back for the Blues soon after when he marked unattended in the goalsquare, but goals to Bailey Dale and Liam Picken stretched the Bulldogs' lead to 22 points.

A Matthew Wright behind at the 27-minute mark reduced Carlton's half-time deficit to 21 points.

Carlton: TBC

Western Bulldogs: Jake Stringer injured his left hamstring in the opening minutes of the second quarter. The forward limped from the ground and applied ice to his hamstring as he sat on the interchange bench. He did not play any further part in the match. 

The Blues take on the bottom-of-the-ladder Brisbane Lions at the Gabba in a twilight game next Sunday. Carlton has lost its past three games at the Lions' home ground, its last win there coming in round nine, 2013. The Bulldogs host Gold Coast at Cazaly's Stadium in a twilight clash next Saturday, having won all three of the teams' encounters at the Cairns venue.

CARLTON                    3.2    4.4    6.6    9.8 (62)                        
WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.4    7.7    10.8  12.10 (82)   

Carlton: Wright 3, Curnow 2, Casboult, Boekhorst, Gibbs, Graham, 
Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli 2, McLean 2, Dale 2, Hunter, Stringer, Honeychurch, Picken, Wallis, Johannisen

Carlton: Gibbs, Kreuzer, Simpson, Docherty, Kerridge, Wright
Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Bontempelli, Dale, Johannisen, McLean, Daniel

Carlton: Buckley (knee), A.Silvagni (left knee), Byrne (groin)
Western Bulldogs: Stringer (left hamstring)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Stephens, Kamolins, McInerney

Official crowd: 35,157 at the MC