|Brownlow Medal||3 Travis Boak (PORT)||2 Charlie Dixon (PORT)||1 Jack Macrae (WBULL)|
With its season on the line, the Western Bulldogs ventured to Ballarat to 'host' Port Adelaide at Eureka Stadium in a history-making match - the first ever to be played for premiership points at the venue - on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs will be playing two home games a season at the ground from next year, and were looking to start off the venture with a win, but it was not to be. The rain stayed away on a typically cold Ballarat winter afternoon, and the Bulldogs led for much of the afternoon but never by much, and when the match was there to be won, it was Port Adelaide that stepped up, kicking the last five goals to eke out a 17-point victory, one which guarantees the Power a place in September, and keeps their top-four chances alive.
Winning the toss, Bob Murphy - who in the lead-up to the match announced that the 2017 season would be his last in the AFL - chose to kick with what most regarded as a two-goal breeze, and the Bulldogs started brightly with that advantage, Bailey Dale going down in the record books as the first goalkicker at the league's newest venue, with Matt Suckling following up with a beautiful long set shot from the boundary to give the Dogs a 13-point lead.
From there, fortune began to turn against the Dogs, with Jake Stringer forced out of the match with a hamstring strain and Power ruckman Patrick Ryder snapping Port's first goal. The two sides traded behinds for the next 12 minutes before Travis Cloke snapped the Dogs' third goal but a late major to Ryder after he was paid a free kick had the Power within seven points at quarter time.
The visitors looked like making better use of the breeze early in the second term with Ollie Wines snapping a goal that levelled the scores after only two minutes. A free kick and goal to Lachie Hunter saw the Dogs briefly regain the lead, but majors to Charlie Dixon and Robbie Gray saw Port ahead by seven points heading in to time on. However, the Bulldogs turned things around in the late stages of the term, with Cloke and Dale each kicking their second goal to restore a five-point lead. Skipper Murphy had the chance to extend that to 11, but his post half-time siren shot hit the post and the Dogs took a one-goal lead into the long break.
After an early miss from Port's Ollie Wines, Bailey Dale made it three goals in three quarters after he marked at the five-minute mark to give the Bulldogs an 11-point lead. The Power hit back against the breeze with goals to Chad Wingard and Travis Boak giving the visitors a two-point advantage but the Dogs controlled the next period, and majors to Hunter and Josh Dunkley saw them back out to a two-goal lead. They had chances to build on that, but Dale and Jason Johannisen both missed chances, and a late goal to Dixon had Port back within seven points at the final end change.
A rushed behind followed by a goal to Sam Gray had scores level within two minutes of the start of the final term and the Power looked likely winners with the breeze at their backs. But the Bulldogs, desperate to stay in the finals hunt, dug deep and a snapped goal from Tony Liberatore follows by a fourth major to Dale had them back out to a two-goal lead at the 10-minute mark. If the Dogs had been able to find another goal, it might almost have broken Port's resistance but they could not do so, and Charlie Dixon stepped up to the plate over the next few minutes to kick two goals and put the Power ahead by a point midway through the term.
The Bulldogs hung on grimly from there, adding a behind to level the scores but a goal to Wingard with under six minutes left on the clock gave Port the lead once more, and they surged away in the final few minutes to add further majors through Robbie Gray and Jared Polec to cap off a meritorious 17-point win.
Port's two big men, Ryder (55 hitouts) and Dixon (four goals, eight marks) were match winners, while skipper Travis Boak (33 possessions, seven tackles) also played a huge role in the Power's win. For the Bulldogs, Jack Macrae collected 41 possessions and laid seven tackles to continue an outstanding season, one that will surely see him go close to winning the club's best and fairest award this year.
If other results go their way, the Power could yet sneak into the top four with a big win over Gold Coast at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday night. For the Bulldogs, finals remain a possibility, but only a very remote one, If they win their Friday night match against Hawthorn, losses to Essendon (against Fremantle), West Coast (against Adelaide) and St Kilda (against Richmond) would see them sneak into eighth place. Otherwise, that match on Friday will see Bob Murphy draw a curtain on his fine career.
Western Bulldogs: Dale 4; Cloke, Hunter 2; Dunkley, Liberatore, Suckling
Port Adelaide: Dixon 4; R. Gray, Wingard, Ryder 2; Wines, Boak, S Gray, Polec
BEST - AFL.COM.AU
Western Bulldogs: Macrae, McLean, Dale, Dahlhaus, Suckling, Daniel
Port Adelaide: Ryder, Boak, Dixon, Polec, Wines, Powell-Pepper
BEST - THE AGE
Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Dale, Liberatore, McLean, Daniel, Hunter
Port Adelaide: Dixon, Ryder, Boak, S. Gray, Ebert, Wines, Polec
Western Bulldogs: Stringer (left hamstring)
Port Adelaide: Dan Houston (shoulder)
UMPIRES: Chamberlain, Meredith, Mitchell
TELEVISION BROADCAST: Fox Footy
|Western Bulldogs||Match Stats||Career|
|24||Biggs, Shane||12||3||11||23||0||0||0||1||1||0||26y 14d||57||7|
|4||Bontempelli, Marcus||7||2||5||12||0||1||0||5||1||1||21y 268d||84||78|
|13||Cloke, Travis||6||1||4||10||2||1||1||3||1||0||30y 167d||256||452|
|12||Cordy, Zaine||6||3||5||11||0||0||0||3||2||1||20y 296d||29||8|
|6||Dahlhaus, Luke||6||1||23||29||0||0||0||6||0||1||24y 363d||136||107|
|31||Dale, Bailey||8||3||6||14||4||1||0||0||1||0||21y 28d||29||24|
|35||Daniel, Caleb||12||3||15||27||0||0||0||3||1||1||21y 43d||53||22|
|29||Dickson, Tory||1||0||6||7||0||0||0||5||2||4||29y 327d||88||149|
|20||Dunkley, Josh||6||3||6||12||1||0||0||1||0||0||20y 222d||23||14|
|7||Hunter, Lachie||10||6||9||19||2||0||0||0||1||0||22y 249d||83||42|
|39||Johannisen, Jason||18||6||9||27||0||4||0||3||1||0||24y 284d||83||28|
|21||Liberatore, Tom||7||2||11||18||1||0||0||7||1||1||25y 95d||115||38|
|11||Macrae, Jack||18||6||23||41||0||0||0||7||3||0||23y 16d||98||21|
|16||McLean, Toby||7||2||19||26||0||0||0||6||4||2||21y 200d||37||28|
|38||Morris, Dale||4||3||5||9||0||0||0||4||0||1||34y 233d||240||3|
|2||Murphy, Bob||8||2||5||13||0||1||0||4||1||1||35y 71d||311||182|
|42||Picken, Liam||8||3||11||19||0||0||0||4||1||0||31y 18d||197||84|
|23||Roughead, Jordan||7||0||7||14||0||0||31||6||4||3||26y 289d||125||28|
|9||Stringer, Jake||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||23y 116d||89||160|
|1||Suckling, Matt||14||3||8||22||1||0||0||2||0||1||29y 25d||140||67|
|34||Williams, Bailey||11||3||8||19||0||0||0||3||0||1||19y 313d||17||0|
|33||Young, Lewis||4||4||6||10||0||0||0||1||1||1||18y 242d||6||0|
|Port Adelaide||Match Stats||Career|
|15||Amon, Karl||14||4||8||22||0||0||0||2||0||0||22y 0d||34||20|
|1||Boak, Travis||14||7||19||33||1||1||0||7||0||1||29y 18d||219||142|
|26||Bonner, Riley||11||6||7||18||0||0||0||1||0||0||20y 165d||2||0|
|33||Byrne-Jones, Darcy||12||5||7||19||0||0||0||1||1||0||21y 333d||41||4|
|17||Clurey, Tom||7||6||2||9||0||0||0||0||0||0||23y 149d||39||0|
|22||Dixon, Charlie||10||8||8||18||4||0||3||4||2||1||26y 330d||104||166|
|7||Ebert, Brad||11||3||7||18||0||0||0||8||1||1||27y 139d||211||108|
|9||Gray, Robbie||11||4||7||18||2||2||0||2||2||1||29y 142d||176||257|
|46||Gray, Sam||13||7||2||15||1||1||0||3||2||0||25y 199d||55||34|
|8||Hartlett, Hamish||14||5||3||17||0||0||0||5||2||1||27y 5d||146||73|
|43||Houston, Dan||12||6||3||15||0||0||0||3||1||2||20y 99d||15||1|
|32||Howard, Dougal||8||6||3||11||0||0||0||0||1||0||21y 147d||8||4|
|31||Johnson, Aidyn||2||1||4||6||0||0||0||4||0||2||19y 292d||4||2|
|42||Jonas, Tom||9||5||7||16||0||0||0||4||1||0||26y 222d||103||1|
|13||Marshall, Todd||5||3||5||10||0||0||0||4||0||0||18y 315d||1||0|
|3||Neade, Jake||8||2||10||18||0||1||0||5||1||1||23y 82d||56||49|
|21||Polec, Jared||12||6||11||23||1||0||0||7||0||3||24y 311d||82||45|
|2||Powell-Pepper, Sam||8||4||8||16||0||0||0||12||0||5||19y 223d||20||15|
|4||Ryder, Paddy||7||3||5||12||2||0||55||5||3||5||29y 158d||208||146|
|39||Westhoff, Justin||9||3||4||13||0||0||3||6||1||2||30y 322d||224||266|
|16||Wines, Ollie||11||3||17||28||1||2||0||6||1||1||22y 316d||105||50|
|20||Wingard, Chad||9||5||6||15||2||1||0||4||0||0||24y 21d||124||207|