THE WESTERN Bulldogs have their finals fate in their own hands after dismantling Greater Western Sydney by 61 points at Giants Stadium on Sunday.
GWS recovered from a slow start to grab control of the clash but the Dogs booted the final 12 goals of the match in a dominant performance to grab eighth spot on the ladder with one round remaining, winning 19.12 (126) to 9.11 (65).
Led by star midfielders Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae and Josh Dunkley, running defenders Jason Johannisen and Taylor Duryea, and Patrick Lipinski, the visitors were too clean in the second half.
Matt de Boer gets a handpass away under pressure from Marcus Bontempelli. Picture: AFL Photos
Toby Greene, Lachie Whitfield, Phil Davis and Zac Williams were influential for the Giants, but they had too few contributors after the main break in a worrying sign for coach Leon Cameron.
The Dogs' in-form midfield controlled the play early and after the first six inside 50s of the match, their forwards capitalised with quick goals to Tory Dickson, Aaron Naughton and Josh Schache.
Bontempelli managed to shake the tag of the returning Matt de Boer with seven first term possessions and four clearances, but Tim Taranto, Whitfield and Williams helped turn the momentum back in favour of the Giants.
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Lachie Keeffe (two goals) and Harry Himmelberg provided strong targets inside 50 and after the teams combined for 12 goals in the opener, the visitors held a slight 11-point advantage.
Brilliant snaps from Greene and Himmelberg gave GWS an ideal start to the second quarter and its first lead of the match just five minutes in, and another for Greene, and Adam Tomlinson's first, pushed margin out to 15 points.
While the Giants were clean and ruthless going forward, the Bulldogs wasted the footy, with Macrae (21 possessions at 44 per cent efficiency) the main culprit.
Tensions threatened to boil over midway through the quarter and when Bontempelli dropped Nick Haynes with a late bump, he became a target for the home fans.
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The Giants had control until two late goals against the run of play got the Bulldogs within three points at the main break.
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GWS responded well and dominated the early stages of the third term but while the home side had the first five inside 50s, it could only manage four behinds on the scoreboard.
The Dogs took the opportunity to make the Giants pay dearly.
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A class finish on the run from Bailey Smith gave them the lead, and with Bontempelli, Macrae and Dunkley clinical around stoppages, and Patrick Lipinski, Matt Suckling and Lachie Hunter finding plenty of outside ball, another four unanswered goals saw them head to the last change ahead by 29 points.
It was more of the same in the last term as the Giants finished a match without a goal in the second half for the second week running.
The Dogs kicked the only five majors of the last term with Bailey Dale (two), Sam Lloyd, Schache and Lipinski all hitting the scroeboard.
GWS Giants: Haynes recovered from his heavy knock and managed to play out the match.
Western Bulldogs: The Dogs got through the win unscathed on the injury front.
The Giants finish the season with a trip to Gold Coast to take on the Suns on Saturday night, while the Bulldogs face Adelaide in Ballarat on Sunday in a match that will decide their finals fate.
GWS GIANTS 5.3 9.6 9.10 9.11 (65)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 7.1 9.3 14.9 19.12 (126)
GWS Giants: Greene 2, Himmelberg 2, Keeffe 2, Kennedy, Whitfield, Tomlinson
Western Bulldogs: Schache 3, Dale 2, Dickson 2, Dunkley 2, Lipinski 2, Naughton 2, Lloyd 2, Hunter, Richards, B.Smith, Duryea
GWS Giants: Whitfield, Greene, Taranto, Williams, Haynes, Davis
Western Bulldogs: Dunkley, Macrae, Bontempelli, Lipinski, Suckling, Johannisen
GWS Giants: Shane Mumford (illness) replaced by Dawson Simpson
Western Bulldogs: Tim English (illness) replaced by Lewis Young
Umpires: Fisher, Stevic, Deboy
Official crowd: 10,139 at Giants Stadium