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Match Report: Giants' bite better than Dogs' bark

with Callum Twomey (AFL Media)  August 11, 2017 10:33 PM

Match Highlights: Bulldogs v Giants (Rd21) The Bulldogs and Giants clash in round 21 at Etihad Stadium.

The Western Bulldogs hopes of playing finals have been significantly dented after falling to Greater Western Sydney 16.9 (105) to 7.15 (57) at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

The win was set up in the second quarter with the Bulldogs dominating play but failing to convert on the scoreboard, managing three goals from 22 inside 50s while the Giants managed the same total from just four entries.

After half-time it was all GWS, tackling ferociously, disposing of the ball beautifully and making the most of every approach to goal.

The Giants appear to be heading into their best form as September approaches and will be welcoming back a number of their best players over the next few weeks, however they could be without Toby Greene after the small forward was reported in the third term for rough play against Luke Dahlhaus.

It's far from season over for the Dogs who face Port Adelaide at home next week and then Hawthorn in the final round, but they will need to win both if they're to be any chance of going back to back.

Marcus Bontempelli was probably the Dogs' most influential player, although Lachie Hunter (26 disposals) and Toby McLean (23) also battled hard as the Dogs' four-game winning streak was broken.

Jon Patton's presence loomed large at the start of the clash. Returning after missing last week's win over Melbourne with hamstring soreness, the powerful big man kicked three goals in the opening quarter and was unstoppable as the Giants bombed it to him long.

Just as Bomber Joe Daniher two weeks ago exposed the Dogs for a lack of experienced tall defenders, Patton again highlighted that issue with some imposing moments. GWS' 10-point advantage at the first change didn't quite reflect its say on the contest.

The Dogs turned the weight of momentum their way in the second quarter. Luke Beveridge's men were able to close down the Giants' run and space, but still trailed by four points at the main break after a wasteful display.

The Bulldogs registered 22 inside-50s for the quarter but could manage just 3.6 on the scoreboard. The Giants, just as remarkably, went inside their attacking forward arc just four times but kicked three goals.

If nothing else, the quarter was a reminder of the Dogs' capacity to hunt. They entered the clash on a four-game winning streak, but had not been in the type of form that rocketed them to their breakthrough flag last year. The second quarter was a step towards that.  

But the Giants flexed their muscles in the third term to establish what went on to be a match-winning lead.

Already being booed by Dogs fans for his strike on Bulldog midfielder Caleb Daniel in the clubs' match earlier this year, Greene didn't let the Dahlhaus incident bother him, and instead floated forward a minute afterwards to take a big mark and convert an important goal. His report will doubtless dominate discussion over the weekend.

As should the Giants' form. Their third quarter completely shut down the Dogs' hopes and showed the Giants to be irresistible when up and going. They kicked six goals to none for the term to take a 38-point advantage into the final term and weren't going to slow down from there.

Western Bulldogs: The Dogs appeared to get through the game without any major injury concerns. 

Greater Western Sydney: Dylan Shiel continues to play through the pain of his dodgy shoulders, and he went down in pain grabbing at them again during Friday night's clash. But the important midfielder played out the game. 

The Bulldogs host Port Adelaide next Saturday at Mars Stadium in Ballarat in a game that will shape their finals chances. The Giants host West Coast next Saturday at Spotless Stadium and could shore up their top-four spot.

WESTERN BULLDOGS             3.1   6.7   6.12   7.15 (57)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY  4.5   7.5  13.8  16.9 (105)

Western Bulldogs: Dickson 2, Dahlhaus, Redpath, Dale, Murphy, Cloke
Greater Western Sydney: Patton 4, De Boer 2, Kelly 2, Greene 2, Whitfield 2, Coniglio, Ward, Hopper, Lobb 

Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Hunter, McLean, Suckling
Greater Western Sydney: Coniglio, Shiel, Williams, Kelly, Patton, Whitfield 

Western Bulldogs: Luke Dahlhaus (face)
Greater Western Sydney: Zac Williams (cut above eye) 

Reports: Toby Greene (rough conduct)

Umpires: Margetts, Schmitt, Mollison

Official crowd: 30,672 at Etihad Stadium