The Western Bulldogs have defeated Melbourne by 20 points in a top of the table clash, reclaiming pole position on the AFL ladder.
In a see-sawing contest at a greasy – but crowd-less – MCG, the Bulldogs withstood a late challenge from a persistent Dees outfit to claim a 13.7 (85) to 9.11 (65) victory.
The Bulldogs had opened up a 10-point lead at quarter time, which they extended to 21 points by the major break.
It was an arm wrestle in the third term, before the Dees kicked three consecutive goals either side of three-quarter time to get the margin back under a kick.
The Bulldogs found a big reply.
They kicked the last three goals of the game – through Marcus Bontempelli, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and former Dee Mitch Hannan – to seal the win.
Bontempelli again led from the front in arguably another best-on-ground performance. The skipper had 31 disposals and kicked two goals, to go with 10 clearances, six tackles and 755 metres gained.
Caleb Daniel (34 disposals, one goal) and Jack Macrae (38 disposals) were also prolific, with Tom Liberatore (27 disposals), Bailey Smith (26 disposals) and Lachie Hunter (26 disposals) part of a well-rounded midfield performance.
Hannan, Bontempelli, Josh Bruce and Aaron Naughton each kicked two goals, while forward-turned-defender Josh Schache was sensational down back.
Schache finished the night with 17 disposals and six marks, slotting seamlessly into the Bulldogs’ back line.
The individual highlight of the night was a spectacular mark from Cody Weightman – sitting on Max Gawn’s head – to claim what will surely be a contender for Mark of the Year.
There were two injuries for the Bulldogs to contend with. They lost Alex Keath (hamstring) before quarter time and Ed Richards (concussion) by three quarter time.
Next up is the Adelaide Crows – with a date and venue for the fixture to be confirmed by the AFL in the coming days.
MELBOURNE 1.4 2.7 7.9 9.11 (65)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.2 6.4 10.5 13.7 (85)
Melbourne: Brown 2, Fritsch 2, Pickett 2, McDonald, Petracca, Viney
Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli 2, Bruce 2, Hannan 2, Naughton 2, Daniel, English, Smith, Ugle-Hagan, Weightman
Melbourne: Oliver, Petracca, Neal-Bullen, Lever, Gawn, Hunt
Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Daniel, Macrae, B. Smith, Hunter, Liberatore, Schache
Western Bulldogs: Keath (hamstring), Richards (concussion)
Melbourne: Sparrow (unused)
Western Bulldogs: Scott (replaced Keath in the first quarter)