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   Jul 05

Western Bulldogs finally get off the leash against Carlton

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Nanjing Night Net

WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.3 4.4 7.8 9.10 (64)CARLTON 1.1 4.7 4.11 7.11 (53)GOALS Western Bulldogs: Stringer 3, Daniel, Grant, Dahlhaus, Boyd, Wallis, Dickson. Carlton: Armfield 2, Everitt, Buckley, Tutt, Casboult, Henderson.BEST Western Bulldogs: Boyd, Picken, Daniel, Macrae, Wood, Minson. Carlton: Graham, Tuohy, Murphy, White, Armfield.Injuries: Western Bulldogs: D Morris (suspected broken jaw), J Roughead (jarred back), T McLean (a/c joint). Carlton: A Everitt (knee), P Cripps (rolled ankle), S Rowe (back).UMPIRES Findlay, Kamolins, Wallace.CROWD 31,445 at Etihad Stadium.

The Western Bulldogs had some issues come half-time of Saturday night’s game against Carlton, of which a three-point deficit was just one.

Just like last week against StKilda, the Dogs hadn’t been allowed to get their running game going, Carlton applying plenty of physical pressure.

Their forward line wasn’t functioning well, and they were having enough trouble just getting hands on the ball, Carlton at one stage having enjoyed 14 of the previous 17 forward entries and beginning to dominate contested possession.

And while the Dogs’ band of talented youngsters have received plenty of favourable publicity, Carlton’s were having even more of an impact, on-ballers Patrick Cripps and Nick Graham winning plenty of touches, only the Blues’ inaccuracy preventing stealing something of a march.

The Bulldogs needed to stamp themselves on proceedings quick smart when play resumed. They were able to do so through some widely varying sources.

There was a cameo from big man Jack Redpath, who landed a bone-rattling bump on Carlton skipper Marc Murphy. There was a critical goal from former Bulldog skipper Matthew Boyd in his 250th game, the veteran playing a blinder and his clean pick-up and goal on the run the undoubted highlight.

But there was also one of the more notable AFL debuts we’re likely to see this season. It came from little Caleb Daniel, who turns 19 on Tuesday, is just 167 centimetres and 63 kilograms, and if that doesn’t make him distinctive enough, he wears a helmet.

Daniel did as much as any other player on the ground to swing this match one way or the other. His tiny frame bobbed up seemingly everywhere. He had four disposals within four minutes, in every part of the ground. He got in and under, he dished off handballs left, right and centre and with the eighth of his nine third-term touches, he gave the Dogs, finally, a little breathing space.

Even then, the Doggies didn’t do it easy, edging 27 points up early in the last quarter before Carlton kicked the game’s final three goals. Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge couldn’t have hoped for a better start by his team, who were already two goals to the good in only four minutes.

Luke Dahlhaus had the first, a clever right-foot snap from the forward pocket. The second was considerably easier, Carlton somehow leaving acres of space on the defensive side of a stoppage, and Jarrad Grant stepping gratefully into it, ball in hand, to ram one home.

It was three goals after the Dogs managed to move the ball coast-to-coast within just seven seconds.

Carlton forward Levi Casboult hit the post, and within three disposals it was sailing through the goalposts at the other end, Grant’s long kick pounced upon by Tory Dickson, who managed to hold off Michael Jamison’s chase just long enough to grubber the ball home.

Things were looking ugly for the Blues. But not for the first time recently under John Barker, some resilience kicked in. Carlton started to break even statistically, if not on the scoreboard, and by the second term, that had turned around, too.

Within a minute of the restart, in fact, when Dylan Buckley somehow squeezed one through from hard-up against the boundary line on the run, so close to the fence he had only to lean over slightly to high-five an appreciative Blues fan.

Andrejs Everitt put Carlton within two points with a big goalsquare grab, and soon the Blues were dominant, only errant kicking denying them the lead.

It had been a hard slog for the Bulldogs, their run stifled, pressure from the Blues forcing turnovers and poor decision-making. It took a piece of individual skill from Jake Stringer to reverse Carlton’s momentum.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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