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Fierce Bulldogs demolish sluggish Dockers

Jason Phelan, AAP, and Ben Guthrie  March 27, 2016 3:35 PM

Highlights: Western Bulldogs v Fremantle The Bulldogs and Dockers clash in round one
AFL 2016 Rd 01 - Western Bulldogs v Fremantle

Easton Wood takes a speccy against the Dockers

A WITHERING opening burst from the Western Bulldogs has set up a 65-point win over Fremantle at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The slick Dogs made the dazed Dockers look like they were running in wet sand as they set up the 15.13 (103) to 5.8 (38) win with a stunning opening salvo.

The Bulldogs had winners across the ground.

Jason Johannisen and Shane Biggs led the way with 35 disposals each, Jake Stringer booted five goals and Easton Wood, who took a spectacular intercept mark in the third term, was composed in defence along with Bob Murphy.

Talking points: Libba's memorable return

From the moment Marcus Bontempelli's opening goal sailed through with barely 20 seconds elapsed, until the quarter-time siren sounded with shell-shocked Fremantle 41 points in arrears, the Dogs were irresistible.

Tom Liberatore had a hand in that goal, then was swamped by jubilant teammates when he kicked one of his own soon afterwards in his first game since 2014.

The star onballer missed the Dogs' barnstorming run to the finals in Luke Beveridge's first year as he recovered from a knee reconstruction, and celebrated his return with 25 possessions.

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge lauded his players for their sustained effort across the board as they limited Fremantle to just 5.8 for the match. 

"It was strong from the start, right through to the end. Keeping a team to that low score out here is always a good effort," Beveridge said. 

"It was sustained by all 22 players and they all had significant contributions through the course of the day. 

"It was a real four-quarter performance."

But where the Dogs dazzled, the Dockers looked out of sorts from the outset with Matthew Pavlich then Hayden Ballantyne missing simple set shots in the first quarter as their side went inside the forward 50 just six times.

Nat Fyfe was indicative of Fremantle's malaise, the Brownlow medallist managing just six possessions to half-time before finishing with 15 touches.

To make matters worse for Freo, Pavlich faces a nervous wait to see how the Match Review Panel assesses a front-on bump on Wood in the second quarter.

The margin was 50 points at half-time and Ross Lyon might find some solace in the way his side fought back into the contest.

Lyon gave full credit to the Bulldogs but was savage on his team's mindset leading into the contest. 

"They were up for a street fight and we were up for a nice Sunday stroll," Lyon said. 

"We got what we deserved."

With Aaron Sandilands missing through suspension and Pavlich, Fyfe and David Mundy not having their usual influence, the Dockers outscored the Dogs in the third term to trail by 40 points at three-quarter time.

Pavlich pulled the margin back to 34 points with his only goal of the day early in the final term but the Dogs made one final push, kicking the last five goals of the contest to celebrate an impressive win in front of 27,832 fans.

MEDICAL ROOM
Western Bulldogs:
The Bulldogs emerged from their strong win against the Dockers with a clean bill of health. Coach Luke Beveridge was cognisant of the upcoming run of three six-day breaks over the first seven games, and said his club would manage its players accordingly.

Fremantle: Ruckman Zac Clarke "banged his knee up" at the first centre bounce of the game. The big man played out the game, but Lyon indicated Clarke was pretty sore after the game. Nat Fyfe played out the match, but he needed treatment on an injured hip. Luckily, for the Dockers, Aaron Sandilands is ready to come straight back in after serving his one-week suspension.

NEXT UP
Fremantle returns home for a second-up clash against Gold Coast. The Dockers are yet to lose to the Suns in their five outings so far and will be desperately searching to bounce back, and in a hurry. The Bulldogs remain on their home deck for a duel with St Kilda.

WESTERN BULLDOGS     7.1     9.7     10.11     15.13 (103)
FREMANTLE     0.2     1.5     4.7     5.8 (38)

GOALS
Western Bulldogs:
Stringer 5, Bontempelli, Liberatore, McLean, Johannisen, Dunkley, Roughead, Suckling, T Boyd, Macrae, Daniel
Fremantle: Walters, Suban, Taberner, Weller, Pavlich

BEST
Western Bulldogs:
Johannisen, Biggs, Stringer, Murphy, Macrae, Suckling, Liberatore
Fremantle: Neale, Dawson, Sheridan, C Pearce, Mundy

INJURIES
Western Bulldogs
: Nil
Fremantle: Clarke (knee)

Reports: Matthew Pavlich (Fremantle) reported for rough conduct on Easton Wood (Western Bulldogs).

Umpires: O'Gorman, Meredith, Ryan  

Official crowd: 27,832 at Etihad Stadium