Cody Weightman celebrates a goal during the Round 14 match between North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on June 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

CODY Weightman celebrated his 50th game with five goals in two quarters, the Western Bulldogs livewire helping the Western Bulldogs to a 21-point win over North Melbourne.

Weightman finished with six for the game as the Dogs shook off a slow start, a pacy Kangaroos outfit and injuries to key defenders Liam Jones and Tim O'Brien to secure the 15.15 (105) to13.6 (84) victory at Marvel Stadium.

KANGAROOS v BULLDOGS Full match coverage and stats

The Roos started the game full of run and caught the Dogs napping. Harry Sheezel's outstanding debut season continued (32 disposals, five clearances), finding the footy at will, and Hugh Greenwood emerged as an unlikely target in front of the big sticks, kicking two first-quarter goals.


By contrast, the Western Bulldogs were blowing chance after chance despite plenty of footy in attack, and went into the first break 14 behind despite a lead of six in the inside-50 count.

Having already replaced Josh Bruce with O'Brien at selection, the Dogs were down another first-choice defender just nine minutes into the game, when the in-form Jones was subbed off with a forearm injury.


O'Brien himself suffered a hamstring injury in the second term, meaning key target Aaron Naughton was swung to full-back for the second half, and Rory Lobb pushed to full-forward.

Adam Treloar had dragged the Western Bulldogs into the game in the second quarter with 10 disposals for the term and finished with 34 and seven clearances.

While North continued its pace and efficiency in attack, the weight of numbers eventually won out, the Dogs finally hitting the front for the first time after Caleb Daniel's snap with 16 seconds left in the second half.


From there, the 'Cody' chant took over Marvel Stadium, as the Roos proved to have no answer for the entertainer.

Tom Powell kicked two goals in two minutes to bring the margin back to 22 points, and it hovered around that mark for the final 10 minutes.


The Western Bulldogs were particularly strong at centre bounces, where Tom Liberatore held sway, while the North Melbourne defence had very little chance to hold the inside 50 tide, which sat at a lead of 36 by the game's end.

What will also be of concern to caretaker coach Brett Ratten will be the tackle count, which the Dogs dominated 77 to 49.


The ultimate swingman
A side-effect of the double-injury blow to key defenders Jones and O'Brien was the move of Naughton to defence. The usual forward started his career behind the footy, before making the move forward in 2019, and the Dogs have come under pressure to send him back again to rejig a spluttering attack. Naughton spent most of his time as the last defender, playing on either Callum Coleman-Jones or Hugh Greenwood. It left Alex Keath to deal with Nick Larkey, and Taylor Duryea somewhat understrength against the bullocking Cam Zurhaar.

Aaron Naughton in action for the Western Bulldogs against North Melbourne in round 14. Picture: AFL Photos

Weightman's party
The Dogs forward submitted his bid for the weekly Mark of the Year nomination with a classic specky over Griffin Logue, after Oskar Baker set the ball up perfectly for the small man to take a run and leap. But it was the five goals Weightman kicked across the second and third quarters that were most crucial to the victory, straightening up a forward line that had started the game in very shaky fashion.


Experience counts
Tim English has been a popular choice for mid-season All-Australian ruck among the litany of teams across media outlets, but he came up against the evergreen Todd Goldstein on Sunday night. The big Bulldog certainly wasn't outplayed by any stretch, but found the going much harder than he has in previous games this year. Goldstein held sway in the hitouts, while English found plenty of footy around the ground.


NORTH MELBOURNE     4.1     5.2       8.5      13.6 (84)
1.5     5.8     10.9     15.15 (105)

North Melbourne: Stephenson 3, Larkey 3, Greenwood 2, Powell 2, Simpkin, Curtis, Zurhaar
Western Bulldogs: Weightman 6, Bontempelli 3, Naughton 2, Daniel, Lobb, Treloar, English, 

North Melbourne:
Sheezel, Phillips, Goldstein, McKay, Scott, Stephenson
Western Bulldogs: Weightman, Treloar, Bontempelli, Liberatore, Macrae, English 

North Melbourne: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Jones (forearm), O'Brien (hamstring) 

North Melbourne: Miller Bergman (replaced Phoenix Spicer in the fourth quarter)
Western Bulldogs: Lachlan McNeil (replaced Liam Jones in the first quarter) 

Crowd: 23,829 at Marvel Stadium