Robert Murphy was one of several Dogs veterans to stand up in Darwin on Saturday night
THE WESTERN Bulldogs have defied a mounting injury toll and a fast-finishing Port Adelaide to win their second game in succession, outlasting the Power by nine points in Darwin on Saturday night.
The Dogs lost Tom Williams with a right shoulder injury
in the first half and had injured midfielder Koby Stevens (right leg) playing as a decoy in the forward line, but held the Power goalless in the third term and ran out 10.7 (67) to 8.10 (58) winners for their seventh straight victory over Port Adelaide.
Five talking points: Western Bulldogs v Port Adelaide
Midfielder Ryan Griffen was inspirational with 40 disposals and a goal.
"He just put his head down and dragged a very young team with him over the line," Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney said.
"He's developing into a great Western Bulldogs player and person, which has been good to watch over an 18-month period."
Veteran Daniel Giansiracusa (two goals) provided a spark in attack after subbing into the game for Williams, while Tom Liberatore (35 disposals) was enormously productive in the packs.
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With last round's win over St Kilda, it gave the Dogs back-to-back victories for the first time since rounds seven and eight last year.
The loss was Port Adelaide’s fifth in succession after starting its season with five consecutive wins.
It also continued their sorry record against the Dogs, who they haven't beaten since 2006.
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley was critical of his players after the game
, saying the defeat was the Power’s worst of the season "by a long way".
"They just wanted to win the game more than we did, which was disappointing," he said.
"I think it just came down to a little bit more want in the third quarter. They wanted the win. They wanted to win the ball, they won the contested possession really well.
"It should be very damning because we should never have let that game go the way it went."
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Port Adelaide’s wretched recent record against the Dogs looked set to change after it dominated much of the first half.
The Power led 5.5 to 3.0 with seconds to play in the second quarter, at which stage the Dogs were rarely even entering their forward 50 and staying in touch largely thanks to Port’s inaccuracy.
A soccered goal by Will Minson in the dying seconds of the first half narrowed the gap to 11 points at the main change.
The Dogs then took control in the third quarter, outscoring Port 5.4 to 0.4 for the term to build a 19-point lead.
Giansiracusa missed two set shots early in the term, but he set up Robert Murphy for an easy goal midway through the quarter to put the Bulldogs in front, then snapped truly himself soon after.
Justin Westhoff kicked one for Port early in the last to give his side a chance, but Giansiracusa restored the 19-point margin with a sensational snap from a tight angle.
With temperatures hanging at around 29 degrees at the first bounce, McCartney believed the decision to utilise heat chambers in the month leading into the game paid dividends.
"Without overplaying it, it's another way of preparing physiologically," he said.
The Power, who were well served by Chad Wingard (22 disposals, two goals) and Brad Ebert, lost big man Jarrad Redden to a potential season-ending right shoulder injury late in the game.
Port Adelaide players react after the Power suffered their fifth straight loss. Picture: AFL Media.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.0 4.0 9.4 10.7 (67)
PORT ADELAIDE 3.3 5.5 5.9 8.10 (58)
Giansiracusa 2, Jones, Williams, Griffen, Minson, Addison, Murphy, Dahlhaus, Johannisen
Wingard 2, Butcher, Hitchcock, Ebert, Boak, Westhoff, Logan
Griffen, Liberatore, Giansiracusa, Morris, Murphy, Minson, Goodes
Cornes, Wingard, Ebert, O'Shea, Westhoff
Williams (right shoulder), Stevens (right leg)
Redden (right shoulder)
Daniel Giansiracusa replaced Tom Williams in the second quarter
Kane Mitchell replaced John Butcher in the third quarter
Hosking, Kamolins, Jeffery
7850 at TIO Stadium, Darwin