THE WESTERN Bulldogs have started the season 5-0 for the first time in 75 years, following a convincing 62-point win over Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.
Captain Marcus Bontempelli starred in his 150th game (33 disposals and three goals), while Josh Dunkley (37 disposals and two goals) and Adam Treloar (26 disposals and two goals) also impressed in the 17.16 (118) to 8.8 (56) win.
BULLDOGS v SUNS Full match coverage and stats
The Bulldogs looked a class above from the get go, with electric ball movement allowing the Dogs to continually surge the ball forward and put the Suns defence under immense pressure.
The Dogs’ star-studded midfield found a stack of the ball in the first term, led by Bontempelli, who finished the first quarter with 11 disposals and two goals.
In the second term, the Bulldogs tall forwards started to take control, with Aaron Naughton and Tim English adding two goals and dominating in the air against an undermanned Suns backline sorely missing injured key defender Charlie Ballard.
But it wasn’t just the talls doing damage. Lachie McNeil kicked a classy running banana goal from the pocket, and then Dunkley and Treloar added another couple to give the Dogs 11 straight goals.
Meanwhile, the Suns failed to take their opportunities up forward, kicking 0.3 before finally slotting their first in dying seconds before half time through Jack Lukosius.
But despite being 61 points down at half-time, the Suns refused to wilt.
They brought immense pressure in the third quarter and started to move the ball with speed down the ground, led by the precise kicking of Lukosius.
Gold Coast kicked six goals to two that term, with Ben King and Josh Corbett combining for four goals during the quarter.
However the Dogs restored order with another four goals in the final term to cement themselves at the top of the ladder with their best start to the season since 1946.
Dogs mids add firepower
The Bulldogs midfield has never had much of a problem racking up the ball, but this season their star mids have added greater scoring prowess to their ball winning ability. On Saturday, Bontempelli, Treloar, and Dunkley combined for seven goals to cause major headaches for Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew. If their engine room can continue to regularly impact the scoreboard and complement the developing forward trio of English, Naughton and Josh Bruce, the Dogs will be difficult to stop this season.
Lukosius class on display
While it was a disappointing day for Gold Coast, Jack Lukosius can hold his head high. The young star kicked the Suns’ first goal and then helped set up their second through Izak Rankine. Lukosius was an architect of Gold Coast’s third term resurgence, with his sensational kicking off half-back revitalising the Suns’ ball movement and putting the Dogs under pressure for the first time in the match. He finished with eight marks and 18 touches (16 kicks) at 89 per cent disposal efficiency.
Dogs find ruck Sweet spot
The Bulldogs are a side used to losing the hitout count but against a Suns team missing their No.1 ruckman Jarrod Witts, the Dogs saw an opportunity to give their star-studded midfielders first use. Benefitting from the undermanned ruck division was 203cm debutant Jordon Sweet, who had no issue in the ruck competing with the likes of Caleb Graham (195cm) and Hugh Greenwood (191cm). Sweet finished with 32 hitouts, as the Dogs won the hitouts 46 to 18. With the Dogs likely to rest veteran ruckman Stefan Martin throughout the season, coach Luke Beveridge will be pleased to know he has a capable back up at his disposal.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 4.1 11.4 13.9 17.16 (118)
GOLD COAST 0.2 1.3 7.4 8.8 (56)
Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli 3, Dunkley 2, Treloar 2, Bruce 2, Naughton 2, Wood, English, Hunter, McNeil, Liberatore, Scott
Gold Coast: Corbett 3, King 2, Lukosius, Rankine, Sexton
Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Dunkley, Treloar, Macrae, Hunter
Gold Coast: Lukosius, Corbett, King, Ellis, Miller
Western Bulldogs: Vandermeer (back spasms) replaced in selected side by Lipinksi, Williams (shoulder)
Gold Coast: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Ben Cavarra (replaced Williams)
Gold Coast: Sam Flanders (unused)