IT WAS a matter of millimetres, but it was an incredible captain's goal nonetheless from Marcus Bontempelli that kept the Western Bulldogs' finals dreams alive with a two-point win over West Coast.
DOGS IN A THRILLER Full match coverage and stats
The Eagles led by four points with just a handful of minutes remaining at Metricon Stadium, but up stepped the skipper to launch a shot from 55 metres out that Jeremy McGovern got a hand on.
The goal umpire signalled a goal and there was insufficient evidence to overturn the call after a DrinkWise Score Review.
Eagles forward Jack Darling had his chance to take the lead back with a minute and a half left in the final term but squandered it.
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It looked like the curtains were closing on the Western Bulldogs' finals dreams after handing West Coast a 22-point lead at quarter-time, but the Dogs ramped up the pressure to take home the 6.13 (49) to 7.5 (47) victory.
Jack Macrae (29 disposals) and Caleb Daniel (25 disposals) racked up plenty of uncontested possessions, while the versatile Josh Dunkley was vital up forward (22 disposals and a goal).
Jack Redden (20 disposals) led the charge for the Eagles, but needed more help in the midfield as the Bulldogs dominated possession for most of the evening.
The Dogs now sit level with Greater Western Sydney on 32 points, and they will still need to grab some percentage-boosting wins against Hawthorn and Fremantle in the last two rounds if they’re to be a chance play finals.
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The race for the top four is a little tougher for the Eagles after the loss, but with games to come against St Kilda and North Melbourne there's still hope for West Coast.
Ryan more than just an aerial threat
Liam Ryan rightly deserves the 'flying' nickname, but recent weeks have proved he's not a one-trick pony. The Eagles forward kicked four goals against the Bombers with brilliant leading patterns and pace off the mark. He mightn't have found a heap of the football against the Bulldogs, but he generated 256 metres gained and racked up five score involvements on a night where the Eagles desperately needed it.
The little things count
Eagles forward Jack Darling took a mark right before the three-quarter time siren and lined up from just outside the 50 metre arc. Hoping for every centimeter, Darling ran in too close and launched the ball into the hands of Ryan Gardner and failed to register a score. The gun forward then took a contested mark in the early stages of the last term and pulled his kick to the right. It happened again with a minute and a half to go. On a night where the Eagles needed to make every shot count, Darling will be ruing his missed opportunities.
Style change pays dividends for Dogs
The Bulldogs played into West Coast's hands perfectly in the first quarter, floating high balls up for the backline to take easy intercept marks. Quarter two saw a totally different side, as the Dogs dominated field position and made sure every ground ball was theirs. Josh Dunkley was shifted forward to great effect as the Bulldogs managed eight scoring shots to just one for the Eagles in the second term.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.3 3.8 4.10 6.13 (49)
WEST COAST 4.1 4.2 5.3 7.5 (47)
Western Bulldogs: Wallis 2, Lloyd, Dunkley, R.Smith, Bontempelli
West Coast: Waterman 2, Kennedy 2, Ryan, Sheed, Cole
Western Bulldogs: Dunkley, Macrae, Daniel, Bontempelli, Hunter, Liberatore
West Coast: Redden, Duggan, Sheed, Jetta, Waterman, Cole
Western Bulldogs: Nil
West Coast: Hutchings (hamstring)