The Western Bulldogs’ 2022 finals hopes have taken a hit after a 17-point loss to Fremantle at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.
The Dockers, stinging from last week’s loss to Melbourne, played a much more attacking brand of football which, combined with strong conversion in front of goal, proved too much for the Bulldogs.
After being 23 points down at half time, the Dogs threw everything at the visitors in the final two quarters, but ultimately couldn’t get close enough to challenge for the four points.
The Bulldogs now need to win both of their remaining games – against GWS (Marvel Stadium) and Hawthorn (Tasmania), and hope other results go their way, to feature in the finals.
Fremantle key forward Rory Lobb had a significant say in the outcome, with three of his four goals coming in the opening half – each from set shots outside 50 – to help his team to the early advantage.
Josh Dunkley fought valiantly for the Dogs in a losing cause, finishing with 32 disposals (including a game-high 20 contested possessions), a goal and four tackles.
Tom Liberatore continued his impressive season, collecting 28 disposals to go with eight clearances, nine score involvements and five tackles.
Spearhead Aaron Naughton kicked three majors to take his season tally to 47, equalling his career-best (achieved in 2021), while Cody Weightman booted three – the 10th time he has kicked multiple majors in a game this campaign.
There were flashes of brilliance from debutant Sam Darcy, who finished with 10 disposals and eight marks (two contested) as a key defender.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.4 5.5 9.9 11.12 (78)
FREMANTLE 5.1 9.4 13.8 14.11 (95)
Western Bulldogs: Naughton 3, Weightman 3, Vandermeer, Smith, Bruce, Dunkley, English
Hawthorn: Lobb 4, Frederick 3, Taberner 2, Logue, Schultz, Walters, Brayshaw, O’Driscoll
Western Bulldogs: Dunkley, Liberatore, Smith, Naughton, Macrae, Weightman
Fremantle: Ryan, Lobb, Serong, Clark, Chapman, Brayshaw
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Fremantle: Taberner (calf)
Western Bulldogs: Toby McLean (unused)
Fremantle: Liam Henry replaced Matt Taberner