1. Form doesn't count for much in a final
The Eagles went into this match as the form team in the competition, having won nine of their past 10 and claimed the scalps of top-eight sides Greater Western Sydney, Hawthorn and Adelaide in consecutive weeks. With a 16-6 record, they were more than a touch unlucky to finish as low as sixth. Surely an easy victory against a Western Bulldogs side that had been dismantled at the same ground less than a fortnight ago by lowly Freo and had never won a final outside Victoria would follow? Apparently not. The Dogs got a few players back and that changed things more than even the most optimistic of their supporters could have hoped for, making the Eagles the first ever 16-6 side to exit the finals series in the first week.
2. The Dogs are as resilient as it gets
Talk about annus horribilus. The Western Bulldogs were one of the early premiership favourites after a fantastic start to the season that set hearts racing at the Whitten Oval. And then somebody broke a mirror, probably while walking underneath a ladder. The club's injury curse saw several top-line players out of action for weeks on end and finished the seasons of Marcus Adams, Jack Redpath, Mitch Wallis and inspirational captain Bob Murphy. Against West Coast, Easton Wood, Tom Liberatore, Jack Macrae and Jordan Roughead all returned from injury and could have been excused for being underdone. And then Lin Jong went down. But they won it in a canter and the returning players were excellent.
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3. Emotional Jong in tears after bad injury
They're AFL players, so they're supposed to be big and tough, though the occasional tear might be shed by a player after his final game. Lin Jong didn't have that excuse. When the tears started flowing from the midfielder's eyes halfway through the second term, it was because his night – and likely his finals series – was over. Tackled heavily by Jeremy McGovern, he landed on his shoulder and left the ground in obvious pain. Within minutes, he had his arm in a sling and was visibly upset. It might also be Jong's last game for the Bulldogs, given he is out of contract and being courted by both Collingwood and Gold Coast.
4. Even experienced players have brain fades
Take a couple of West Coast's regulars – Jack Darling and Scott Lycett. In the second term, Darling marked just 20m from goal on a slight angle. Eagles fans let out a collective sigh of relief as the bustling forward looked set to break a run of seven consecutive Bulldogs goals. Then he made a short-lived break towards goal and was called to play on. He stopped, and was then tackled and pinged for holding the ball. Lycett's error pretty much finished the game, late in the third quarter. His switch into the middle was poor and the Dogs forced a contest. They then ran forward in numbers before giving Josh Dunkley the easiest of finishes. Both were pivotal incidents and cost West Coast any chance of gaining momentum.
5. The Bont can be kept quiet
The tagging job fell to Mark Hutchings and, though the Dogs ran amok in the first half, Bontempelli was kept unusually quiet. In 22 previous games this season, the Brownlow Medal chance had been held to less than 20 possessions on just three occasions, and only once since Round 4. He was averaging 24.5 touches per game, going in. But he was rarely sighted in the first half, gathering just six disposals while Hutchings had 12 of his own. Anyone who was given that statistic before the game would have expected West Coast to be well ahead at half-time. Bontempellie fared a little better in the third term, adding another five disposals before being let off the chain in the final term as West Coast threw caution to the wind.