A determined second-half fightback almost saw the Western Bulldogs reel in the Brisbane Lions in a Saturday afternoon scratch match.

The Lions led all day – at one stage by 26 points early in the third term – before the Bulldogs finished strongly to fall just one point short.

Rhylee West impressed around the contest, as did big man Jordon Sweet, while forwards Ben Cavarra and Tory Dickson both kicked three goals.

“In terms of the actual contest, we got a nice even game – a few stoppages, some finishing and some good moments from most of our players,” Bulldogs’ development manager, Jamie Maddocks, said.

“We know that Brisbane’s got great depth and their NEAFL team went through last year undefeated.

“It was good for ‘Gia’ to bring that up at the last break just to say, ‘let’s give this a nudge and see what happens’.

“We fell just short, but the effort and adventure was there for us to do it, which was pleasing.”

In a fluctuating final term, the Bulldogs twice found themselves within a kick.

Goals to Billy Gowers and Cavarra brought the Bulldogs within one point, before the Lions responded with two goals of their own. 

A courageous back-with-the-flight mark from Buku Khamis helped inspire a frantic finish, with Cavarra and Dickson each kicking their third goals, as the Bulldogs controlled the final minutes but couldn’t find the match-winning major.

Jamie Maddocks on the midfield…

“Rhylee West was good, he had an impressive second half. He had some really good moments helping us to win the ball to the outside. Jordon Sweet gave our mids first use around the contest, which was nice.  

We needed Sweety to play that big man’s game – he helps players like Rhylee West and Billy Gowers get their hands on the ball. He was dominant and around the ground was there to compete which was good to see.”

On the forwards…

“It was good to see Ben Cavarra finish in front of goal and Tory Dickson hit the scoreboard as well.  

Ben has had his opportunities the past few weeks but hasn’t quite nailed the shots. He’s been working really hard on it and it was great to see him get reward for effort and finish some tight ones. It was nice to see Dicko get out into some really good spots and do what he does with his finishing.”

On the backs…

“Buku Khamis has been working really hard and has taken so many strides in his game, both defensively and offensively. He’s running up the ground now and trying to help out on offense. It was a great mark from him and to see him go forward and have no hesitation shows where he’s at with his game, he’s high on confidence.

All our key backs, the way they communicated and helped to keep the ball in our half was really impressive.”

WESTERN BULLDOGS                     2.2          3.6          7.11        11.13 (79)
BRISBANE LIONS                              3.0          7.1          10.5        12.8 (80)

Cavarra 3, Dickson 3, Weightman, Sweet, La. Young, R. Smith, Gowers