THE DEFIANT Western Bulldogs have stunned a fast-finishing Richmond by two points at Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs held on grimly in the second half after seeing a 37-point half-time lead whittled away, but they showed tremendous pluck to pull out the 15.10 (100) to 15.8 (98) victory.
The Tigers hit the front late in the final term when Shaun Grigg finished on the run with five minutes remaining, but a cool set-shot snap around the corner from veteran sub Daniel Giansiracusa gave the Dogs the breathing room they needed.
Young Dogs midfielder Jack Macrae was sensational with 30 disposals, six tackles and a goal; ruckman Will Minson finished with an astonishing 55 hit-outs and former captain Matthew Boyd was unshakeable in his commitment to the cause.
"It's a bit of relief for our club to get a win. It was just keep doing what you're doing and the theme of the week was don't fear failing doing it that way," McCartney said.
"In the end, we got pulled apart a little bit and just found a way to scrounge a couple of goals. We had some mentally tough people stand up too in the last quarter."
The Dogs left the sluggish Tigers in their wake in the first half with their run-and-gun style of football, charging to a lead of more than six goals at half-time.
The Tigers were shaken. Jack Riewoldt looked a shadow of his former self with just one disposal to half-time, their defence was all at sea and every move forward was a struggle.
But it was not to be as the Bulldogs held firm, thanks largely to the composure of Macrae and Adam Cooney, the dash of Bob Murphy and the determination of Boyd, who had 29 possessions and eight clearances.
Richmond captain Trent Cotchin was the only constant four-quarter performer for the Tigers, almost single-handedly hauling his side over the line.
Nonetheless, his 28-possession, 11 clearance performance showed great character.
"He was probably a little bit quieter in that second quarter but when we needed him to stand up and get us back in the game and he was one guy who led the charge which was really impressive."
But the Dogs were not prepared to let their hard work slip, clinging to tackles and showing enough poise in the dying stages to emerge victorious.
It was the Bulldogs' first win over Richmond since round eight, 2011 and the side's first of the season.
The Tigers are now delicately poised at 1-2 with an important clash against Collingwood to come under the bright lights of the MCG next Friday night.
Tom Liberatore's intensity was typical of the entire Bulldog side. Picture: AFL Media
WESTERN BULLDOGS 5.4 9.5 11.9 15.10 (100)
RICHMOND 2.4 3.4 9.6 15.8 (98)
Western Bulldogs: Jones 3, Giansiracusa 2, Jong 2, Crameri 2, Cooney, Higgins, Dahlhaus, Hunter, Macrae, Stringer
Richmond: Riewoldt 4, Vickery 2, Griffiths 2, Cotchin, Martin, King, Petterd, Gordon, Jackson, Grigg,
Western Bulldogs: Boyd, Macrae, Murphy, Morris, Liberatore, Minson,
Richmond: Cotchin, Morris, Jackson, Conca, Ellis
Western Bulldogs: Roughead (shoulder)
Richmond: Vlastuin (concussion)
Western Bulldogs: Jordan Roughead (shoulder) replaced at three-quarter time by Daniel Giansiracusa
Richmond: Nick Vlastuin (concussion) replaced in the second quarter by Nathan Gordon
Umpires: Fisher, Stevic, Harris
Official crowd: 31,724 at Etihad Stadium