K rock Football

Top Dogs outclass Adelaide

THE Western Bulldogs have taken another step in their march towards a first-ever AFL minor premiership with a comprehensive 49-point win over lowly Adelaide.

Jack Macrae, Bailey Smith and Caleb Daniel spearheaded a dominant midfield display as the Bulldogs overpowered their opponents in a 15.15 (105) to 8.8 (56) victory, played before empty stands at Ballarat’s Mars Stadium.

The result means Luke Beveridge’s side will retain top spot on the ladder for another week, with just three home-and-away rounds remaining.

The Bulldogs’ deep midfield ensured they got on top at stoppages and controlled the territory battle for long periods, with Macrae (31 disposals and 12 clearances) at the heart of their efforts.

Tall forwards Josh Bruce, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (two goals each) and Aaron Naughton (one) all caused problems for the Crows’ defence at times and speedster Jason Johannisen added two majors.

Former Bulldogs captain Easton Wood returned from injury for his first game since round nine, replacing hamstrung full-back Alex Keath, and combined well with remodelled backman Josh Schache in a resolute defence.

Fellow defender Bailey Dale (31 disposals) also impressed with his accurate distribution off half-back.

Rory Sloane (26 disposals) and Ben Keays (22) worked tirelessly for Adelaide while Elliott Himmelberg and Taylor Walker finished with two goals each.

But the Crows lost Chayce Jones to a corked right quadriceps and were ultimately overwhelmed and outclassed by a battle-hardened Bulldogs outfit.

The Dogs conceded the first two goals before kicking five of the next six into a stiff breeze to gain the upper hand by quarter-time.

Ugle-Hagan was lively early, kicking one goal after a strong mark and showing poise with a delayed handpass in traffic to help set up Johannisen for another major.

The Bulldogs’ deep midfield unit was firmly on top and a lop-sided inside-50 count (36-18) in the first half was reflected on the scoreboard, where they held a 35-point lead at the main break.

It held for the third term before the Bulldogs kicked well clear with the wind at their backs in the final term.

Captain Marcus Bontempelli was somewhat quiet by his standards but kicked a superb goal from 50 metres out after spinning out of a tackle in the dying stages.

(C) AAP 2021

WESTERN BULLDOGS 5.3 9.9 10.11 15.15 (105)

ADELAIDE 3.3 4.4 5.6 8.8 (56)

Goals: Western Bulldogs: J Bruce 2 J Johannissen 2 J Ugle-Hagan 2 A Naughton B Dale C Daniel C Weightman L Hunter M Bontempelli R Garcia T English T Liberatore. Adelaide: E Himmelberg 2 T Walker 2 D Fogarty J Rowe L Murphy T Lynch.

Umpires: Simon Meredith, Leigh Fisher, Robert O’Gorman.

Venue: Eureka Stadium.