Aaron Naughton (left) and Josh Dunkley celebrate a goal during round 15, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

THE WESTERN Bulldogs have stormed into the top eight, booting 13 goals in a row to steamroll a fast-starting Hawthorn on its way to a comfortable 42-point victory at Marvel Stadium on Friday night.

The Dogs shook off another slow start to get out to a 47-point margin in the last on the back of dominance in the centre clearances, before coasting to the 19.11 (125) to 12.11 (83) win.

You could have been forgiven to think it was the Western Bulldogs coming off the bye, not Hawthorn, given the Hawks' speedy start.


They were adventurous off half-back, handballing quickly up the ground to pile on 20 points before the Dogs had a sniff of a score.

Just as he did a few weeks ago against Geelong, it was the tenacious Tom Liberatore (30 disposals, 11 clearances) who kick-started the Bulldogs in the second term with his attack on the footy and hard running around the ground.

BULLDOGS v HAWKS Full match coverage and stats

The Bulldogs evened up the contested ball deficit and stifled the Hawks' previously easy rebound, as Aaron Naughton and a bustling Rhylee West (three goals apiece) helped the Dogs to a five-point lead at half-time.


The third term was party time for Dogs fans – dominant in centre bounces despite the strength of Hawks ruck Ned Reeves, the sometimes-clunky connection across half forward clean as a whistle, and skipper Marcus Bontempelli getting closer to his best.

Hawthorn could have gone into its shell in the fourth quarter, but instead finally broke the Dogs' run of 13 goals and continued to play with dare out of defence.

Jack Scrimshaw stood up under enormous pressure for Hawthorn, taking 12 marks to go with his 26 disposals, while James Worpel (25 and seven clearances) battled hard against one of the deepest midfields in the competition.

Ed Richards was subbed out in the second term with concussion, after receiving an accidental Mitch Lewis knee to the back of his head in a marking contest.


Lewis' hot start
Fresh off a newly signed four-year contract extension announcement, the spearhead showed just why Hawthorn were so keen to lock him away for such a long period of time. Lewis was comfortably the leading player on the ground in the first quarter with nine disposals, six marks and two goals. He struggled to get his hands on the footy in the second and third terms, but finished with four majors, 15 disposals and nine marks.


Rhylee's time to shine
The pressure of being the son of a club legend would be tough to carry, but Rhylee West is slowly carving his own path out at the Kennel. He produced arguably a career-best performance against Hawthorn, with excellent pressure inside 50 and linking well between the midfield and forward line. West kicked three goals to go with 19 touches, saying the absence of Bailey Smith (club suspension) has allowed him to move further up the field.


Excuse me?
Naughton's iconic white headband was an unexpected casualty during the match, drawing the ire of firebrand James Sicily. The pair were involved in a scuffle in the third term, which looked like it had simmered down until Sicily cheekily reached from behind Naughton to take off his headband. Even coach Sam Mitchell saw the funny side, having a giggle with Sicily when he came to the bench.


WESTERN BULLDOGS       1.2     6.6     12.10     19.11     (125)
HAWTHORN                       4.3     5.7     5.11       12.11     (83)

Western Bulldogs: Naughton 3, West 3, Johannisen 2, Dunkley 2, Schache 2, O'Brien, Sweet, Bontempelli, McComb, Ugle-Hagan, Liberatore, Dale
Hawthorn: Lewis 4, Breust 3, Moore 2, Reeves, Butler, Newcombe

Western Bulldogs: Liberatore, Bontempelli, Macrae, Naughton, Dale, Dunkley
Hawthorn: Scrimshaw, Worpel, Lewis, Reeves, Breust, Impey

Western Bulldogs: Richards (concussion)
Hawthorn: Nil 

Western Bulldogs: Lachlan McNeil (replaced Richards in the second quarter)
Hawthorn: Josh Morris (unused)