K rock Football

Bulldogs beat Freo to secure finals berth

THE Western Bulldogs have secured a finals berth and crushed Melbourne’s hopes in the process with a 30-point win over Fremantle at Cazaly’s Stadium on Sunday.

But the win could come at a major cost, with forwards Aaron Naughton (face) and Mitch Wallis (shoulder) suffering injuries.

The Bulldogs slipped to ninth following Melbourne’s win over Essendon on Saturday, meaning they needed a draw or a win against Fremantle to claw their way back into the top eight.

The Demons were hoping for a Fremantle upset, and the Bulldogs seemed in danger after star forward Naughton went to hospital at half-time for scans on his face.

But the Bulldogs dominated play for much of the match and restricted Fremantle to just one goal in the second half to secure the 11.8 (74) to 6.8 (44) win.

The result means the Bulldogs will finish either seventh or eighth, with their final position depending on Collingwood’s clash with Port Adelaide on Monday.

The Demons, despite boasting a 9-8 record and a percentage of 107.8, finish ninth.

Naughton immediately clutched his face after a clash of heads with Sean Darcy during a clumsy shepherd from the Fremantle ruckman in the second quarter.

If Naughton has suffered a facial fracture and is ruled out of the start of the finals, it would be a huge blow to the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs are also sweating on the fitness of Wallis, who went off late in the match with what appeared to be a shoulder injury.

Bulldogs midfielder Lachie Hunter was prolific with 34 disposals and a goal, while ruckman Tim English booted two goals and handed off another.

Dockers skipper Nat Fyfe battled hard to finish with 23 disposals, six clearances and two goals in a losing effort.

Fremantle suffered a blow before the match when Matt Taberner was a late withdrawal with a quad injury.

The first term was a scrappy affair as both sides committed inexplicable turnovers.

Fyfe added some polish in the second quarter with two goals, including a 60m bomb.

But the Bulldogs took control despite kicking against the breeze, booting five goals for the term to take a 12-point lead into the long break.

The stutter-step run-up of Rory Lobb came to the fore again, with the Dockers big man missing a 20m set shot from straight in front.

The Bulldogs dominated field position in the second half, but it wasn’t until the final term when they got true reward for their efforts.

(C) AAP 2020

WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.3 7.4 8.8 11.8 (74)

FREMANTLE 2.2 5.4 6.5 6.8 (44)

Goals: Western Bulldogs: T English 2 A Naughton B Smith C Daniel J Bruce J Johannissen L Hunter M Bontempelli M Wallis P Lipinski. Fremantle: N Fyfe 2 J Hogan L Schultz M Crowden S Darcy.

Umpires: Matt Stevic, Curtis Deboy, Robert O’Gorman.

Venue: Cazaly’s Stadium.