Tim English celebrates a goal with teammates during the Western Bulldogs' round four match against Richmond at the MCG on April 8, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

THE WESTERN Bulldogs have clung on for a stirring five-point victory over Richmond to secure back-to-back wins with a second-half fightback on a wet Saturday evening at the MCG.

The Dogs led by 29 points early in the second term before Richmond rallied with a run of seven consecutive goals to lead by 14 points at the main break, only for Luke Beveridge's side to get the game back on their terms to win 12.17 (89) to 12.12 (84).

TIGERS v BULLDOGS Full match coverage and stats

Richmond was kept to only two goals, both late, in a wet second half while the Dogs booted three fourth-quarter goals to pull away, leaving the Tigers with only one win from four games in 2023.


Tigers supporters were left to lament two Dogs fourth-quarter goals that came directly from dubious free-kicks, to Aaron Naughton and Robbie McComb.

Shai Bolton's snap with 33 seconds left cut the margin to one kick, but the Dogs hung on, dominating inside 50s (16-6) and clearances (15-6) in the final term.

Richmond persisted with its run-and-gun style throughout the contest despite the conditions. The Tigers' style fuelled their eight-goal second term but it also led to turnovers, particularly with poor kicking efficiency early.


The uber-composed Bailey Dale was outstanding off half-back with 30 disposals for a game-high 625m gained, while Dogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli led from the front with 25 touches including 17 contested possessions and 12 tackles.

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Naughton booted three goals for the Dogs, while Tigers livewire Bolton managed three for Richmond along with two goal assists.

Daniel Rioli (29 disposals), Tim Taranto (27) and Liam Baker (25) were all busy for the Tigers, while Dustin Martin neared his brilliant best with 23 touches (15 contested) along with one goal and a equal game-high 10 score involvements.


Bontempelli also had a game-high 11 clearances, including six in the first term, as the Dogs raced ahead with Tom Liberatore busy early too with two majors.

The Dogs went 29 points up after Tim English's opportunistic soccered goal but Richmond responded with devastating offensive football, piling on seven unanswered goals before half-time, including two from Bolton who also set up another for Jacob Hopper.

Conditions worsened after the long break, with a collective 1.10 kicked in the third term, before substitute Mitch Hannan redeemed himself for an earlier glaring miss with a brilliant snap from the pocket to put the Dogs up early in the last.


Goals from Naughton and McComb opened up a 13-point buffer, with the Dogs holding on despite Tim Taranto and Bolton pegging the margin back late.


Dogs win battle of styles
This game was a clash of styles, with Richmond's willingness to move the ball without fear apparent, while the Dogs were dominant around the contest, particularly when the game was up for grabs. Bontempelli and Liberatore were outstanding, having 10 clearances between them in the first term. While Richmond had more disposals (392-363) the Dogs won clearances (43-25) which converted into an inside-50 dominance (64-47) and that ultimately told. Bontempelli (11), Adam Treloar (10) and Liberatore (eight) were the three leading clearance players for the game.

Cotchin managed as sub
Richmond's decision to manage veterans Trent Cotchin and Jack Riewoldt raised a few eyebrows when selection news came out on Thursday. Despite being managed, Cotchin started as sub and came on in the second term when Jack Graham pinged his hamstring. The former skipper had minimal influence, with 11 touches for the game, as well as three kicks and three tackles. Richmond may have been regretting their decision to leave out Riewoldt when fellow key forward Tom Lynch mysteriously spent almost 10 minutes off the field in the second quarter, but he re-emerged to play the game out with no apparent issue.


Tigers' stunning second-quarter blitz
Richmond may have lost, but its second-quarter blitz felt like a warning to opposition sides of its offensive weapons if the Tigers can get their whole game functioning at once. The Tigers went from a 29-point deficit to having the lead in barely 15 minutes, piling on goals at will. Coach Damien Hardwick will be left to rue why they couldn't play that way for four quarters, but they persisted with their handball-happy style (having 174-124 handballs for the game) but it often fell down, not helped by the rain. Richmond encountered similar troubles in the rain last week against Collingwood, too.



RICHMOND                       2.4   10.7    10.11  12.12 (84)
WESTERN BULLDOGS       6.3    8.5     9.11    12.17 (89)

Bolton 3, Lynch 2, Ryan, Cumberland, Clarke, Hopper, Ralphsmith, Martin, Taranto
Western Bulldogs: Naughton 3, Liberatore 2, English 2, Lobb, Daniel, Macrae, Hannan, McComb

Baker, Martin, Pickett, Vlastuin, Bolton, Rioli
Western Bulldogs: Dale, Bontempelli, Naughton, Treloar, Bruce, Liberatore

Graham (hamstring)
Western Bulldogs: Keath (concussion), Crozier (back)

Trent Cotchin (replaced Jack Graham in second quarter)
Western Bulldogs: Mitch Hannan (replaced Alex Keath in first quarter)

Crowd: 56,449 at the MCG