Versatile duo Pat Lipinski and Matt Suckling have pressed their cases for a senior recall with strong performances in Sunday’s scratch match against the Gold Coast Suns.
It was almost a full-scale scratch match, with four quarters and 18 players per side for most of the day.
Scores were level at half-time, 33-33, before the Bulldogs kicked away with the wind in the third term to open up a 20-point lead at the final change.
However, the Suns came home strongly, with a big tackle from Jackson Trengove with just seconds on the clock preventing a late opportunity on goal.
The Bulldogs held on to claim an 11.8 (74) to 9.14 (68) win, as Matt Suckling and Josh Schache each kicked three goals.
Suckling was impeccable by foot, with one of those goals a set shot from outside 50 – into the wind – and another on the run with the wind from inside the centre square.
Lipinski was prolific throughout the contest, finding the ball at will.
“Pat was really strong around the ball and also showed us his ability to spread with power,” development manager, Jamie Maddocks, said.
“He was really clean with his hands and just seemed to be everywhere. It was good for Pat, he’s got a big future with this club and it was great to see him playing an important role for the team.”
“Matt played in a couple of different roles for us to make the game look the way we wanted it to look and helping younger players around him.
“He played a forward-wing role, but he’s a versatile player and then played a different role to help us look secure behind the ball. There were some trademark Matthew Suckling kicks – he knows how to kick the ball, he’s a pro.”
Maddocks also praised the impact of Billy Gowers and Ben Cavarra, who have played some strong scratch match footy this season around their AFL opportunities.
“Billy took his aerial game to a new level in terms of judging the ball in pretty tricky conditions. He looked strong and looked fiery at times, which is when he plays his best football,” Maddocks said.
“He’s always threatening around the contest, he’s a ball of muscle and power and helps the players around him. His work on team defence was important this week to keep the ball in our half.
“Cav played a bit of a different role, he spent time forward but also played some midfield minutes and was really good with his defensive pressure.
“He looked really quick at times in closing down space, but also on the flip-side when he had the ball in his hands running away from the contest, which was pleasing to see.”
WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.3 5.3 10.5 11.8 (74)
GOLD COAST SUNS 2.4 4.9 6.9 9.14 (68)
Goals: Suckling 3, Schache 3, Cavarra, Dale, Dickson, Garcia, Weightman