Sam Darcy celebrates a goal during the Western Bulldogs' clash against Collingwood in round 12, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has praised Sam Darcy's maturity to bounce back from a horror first quarter and play a crucial role in Friday night's 18-point win over Collingwood.

Early in the game, Darcy clattered into Collingwood's Brayden Maynard late, giving up a 50m penalty – resulting in a goal – and starting a scuffle, before giving up another 50m penalty minutes later for running into the protected area.

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"(Darcy) mentioned to me that he thought he could get to the contest, he thought he could get to the ball, and so his momentum carried him through," Beveridge said post-match of the incident, which is sure to be looked at by the Match Review Officer.

"The message was just that the start's been a bit shaky from everyone, and it's just important that he restarts and focuses on what he's capable of."


Darcy went on to play a crucial role in the win, kicking three goals – including the sealer – and taking five contested marks, making his presence felt in the air. That marking strength allowed the Dogs to wrestle back control after giving up five goals in the opening quarter.

"At times when it was trampolining out of (our forward 50) a bit too easy and a bit too quickly and putting our defenders under pressure in space," Beveridge said.

"It was a difficult game to get a handle on and contain (Collingwood's) momentum. So, for Sam to be able to let us breathe and have a set shot or two… he was such an important one of the 23."


While Darcy was starring in attack, Dogs duo Marcus Bontempelli and Adam Treloar were going toe-to-toe with Nick Daicos in the middle of the ground.

Describing all three as "match-winning midfielders", Beveridge said it took until the final quarter for the Dogs to find an answer for Daicos.

"We didn't contain Nick early in the game, we were trying to, and then we went with a different approach during the third quarter and it was OK. But we asked Adam to go to Nick at the stoppages in the last quarter, and Adam's last quarter was enormous," Beveridge said.


The coach also noted that Bontempelli – who registered 38 disposals, 10 clearances and two goals for the game – played the whole last quarter to surge his side over the line.

"He was pretty fatigued, but you know, on a night like tonight when we needed everyone to stand up, as the skipper he was enormous," Beveridge said.

Collingwood coach Craig McRae was equally impressed with Bontempelli's performance.

"'Bont' would look good in a Collingwood jumper," McRae said with a laugh.

"He's a quality player, isn't he? He's an elite player, I enjoy watching him."


But McRae had an equally impressive midfielder on his side in Daicos, who broke the club's clearance record with 16 for the game, while also kicking two early goals.

"Nick's playing exceptionally well for us. There's a lot of things that Nick does, and maybe others don't see, but his pressure's been elite for us around the ground, his clearance work has gone to another level," he said.

But it was his side's work at stoppages that McRae believes ultimately lost the Pies the game.

"I think the game itself got away from us through clearances and inside 50s against. That was the game in essence," McRae said.


After almost breaking even in clearances in the first quarter, Collingwood went on to lose the metric 55-38.

"We just lost territory, and then when we lost it, then we had to try to get the ball back inside 50 from our back half, and then we just didn't quite attack the game in the way we would like," McRae said.

He was adamant not to single out any individual absences as a reason for the loss, instead focusing on the club's system over personnel mindset.

"I think what we need to do is look at us as a collective, and I'm not going to target individuals," McRae said.


More positively for the Pies, they survived the game without adding to their injury list. But the same cannot be said for the Bulldogs, who lost both James Harmes and Laitham Vandermeer to hamstring injuries in the first half.

"We're hoping they're on the lower end of severity," Beveridge said, confirming they would be sent for scans in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the Dogs are hoping Ed Richards and Tom Liberatore will be available for next week's clash with Brisbane after concussion concerns, while recruit Nick Coffield is edging closer to a return from a dislocated shoulder suffered in round two.