THE Western Bulldogs’ upswing in AFL form has continued with a hard-fought 16-point win over Brisbane at a cold and wet Mars Stadium in Ballarat.
Aaron Naughton didn’t reach the heights of his stunning breakout performance against Richmond, but the exciting youngster overcame a quiet first half on Saturday afternoon to boot three goals, with his last major sealing a 13.14 (92) to 11.10 (76) win.
Josh Dunkley starred for the Bulldogs with an equal career-high 36 possessions, as Luke Beveridge’s men levelled their season ledger at four wins and four losses.
Lachie Neale led the way again with 30 disposals for Brisbane, who slipped to a 5-3 record.
The Lions finished two players down after Zac Bailey injured a hamstring in the first quarter and Jarrod Berry suffered a knock to the head in the final term.
The Bulldogs suffered a blow before the game when sore lead ruckman Tim English was withdrawn, replaced by defender Fletcher Roberts.
Jackson Trengove was switched into the ruck and he was one of his side’s better performers, ending with 22 touches and 27 hit-outs.
Dogs forward Ed Richards booted two goals in the opening term, but the Lions led by nine points at the first break after Mitch Robinson added two of his own.
Hugh McCluggage, who played his junior footy in the area, stretched the margin to 16 points with a nice snapped goal, but the Lions failed to make the most of their chances when they had the momentum.
Eric Hipwood was the villain with his five first-half behinds leaving the door ajar for the Dogs to slam home the last three goals of the second quarter to lead by two points at halftime.
Hipwood finally managed to get his radar working to boot the first major of the second half, but the Bulldogs had their tails up and raced to a 21-point lead at three-quarter time after kicking six of seven goals scored either side of halftime.
Dayne Zorko bagged two goals in the last quarter as the margin came back to 16 points but the Dogs steadied when Naughton marked strongly and kicked his side’s last goal.
The Bulldogs will take on Geelong at GMHBA Stadium in Round 9 with the Lions to host Adelaide at the Gabba.
© AAP 2019
WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.1 7.4 11.12 13.14 (92)
BRISBANE LIONS 4.4 6.8 8.9 11.10 (76)
Goals: Western Bulldogs: A Naughton 3 E Richards 2 S Lloyd 2 J Dunkley J Macrae M Bontempelli M Suckling M Wallis W Hayes. Brisbane Lions: M Robinson 3 D Zorko 2 E Hipwood 2 D McStay H McCluggage J Berry L Neale.
Best: Western Bulldogs: J Dunkley J Macrae M Bontempelli J Trengove L Hunter A Naughton. Brisbane Lions: H McCluggage M Robinson L Neale D Zorko J Lyons D Rich.
Official Crowd: 9,039 at Eureka Stadium.