THE WESTERN Bulldogs have breached the top eight for the first time this season, breaking in with a ruthless 101-point win over West Coast at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.

Locked out of the finals placings so far this season, the Bulldogs took advantage of the wounded Eagles to boost their percentage and overtake Richmond in eighth spot, winning 25.11 (161) to 9.6 (60).   

EAGLES v DOGS Full match coverage and stats

Having regained their bite in recent weeks against Collingwood and Gold Coast, the Dogs went in for a mauling in their third straight win, kicking their highest score since round three last season.

07:44 Mins
Published on

Highlights: West Coast v Western Bulldogs

The Eagles and Bulldogs clash in round eleven

Published on

It was their biggest ever win against West Coast, kicking seven goals to two in the final quarter to put the exclamation point on a dominant performance.  

Last year's grand finalists overwhelmed their opponents at stoppages all night and then whipped the ball forward in trademark fashion through their army of midfield runners. 

00:57 Mins
Published on

Keath's end-to-end effort deserves the finish

Alex Keath gets involved multiple times from deep in defence to get a rare goal

Published on

Ruckman Tim English was the best of them, playing as an extra midfielder after stoppages and finishing with 25 disposals and eight clearances. He gave his team a 44-23 hitout advantage and pushed forward for a goal in a complete performance.   

Adam Treloar (35 disposals and seven inside 50s), Josh Dunkley (25 and two goals), Jack Macrae (30 and seven inside 50s) and Tom Liberatore (20 and 10 clearances) were all excellent in a deep team performance.

Highlighting how many contributors there were, the Bulldogs had an equal record 16 separate goalkickers, and seven multiple goalkickers, led by Aaron Naughton (four). 

Western Bulldogs' Aaron Naughton celebrates a goal in round 11 at Optus Stadium on May 28, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Key defender Alex Keath even kicked a career-best two goals, the first from a spin and snap, and the second coming after back-to-back 50m penalties against Josh Kennedy.

While the Bulldogs break back into the eight, the Eagles will spend a fifth straight week anchored to the bottom of the ladder, having suffered their fifth loss by more than 70 points.

00:44 Mins
Published on

Kelly coolly converts a sizzling dribbler

Tim Kelly kicks a beautiful dribbling goal on the run

Published on

Midfielder Tim Kelly (38 disposals) fought hard at the coalface, while Jack Darling bounced back to form with four goals.

The home team at least showed plenty of fight in the first half, keeping the half time margin to 32 points, but they were swamped after the main break and left nursing yet another injury in a doomed season when Jeremy McGovern went down with a back injury.    

Marcus Bontempelli celebrates the win with the fans after the Bulldogs' round 11 match against West Coast at Optus Stadium on May 28, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Ruckman bounces back in return home 
Tim English endured a rough month leading into Saturday night, recovering from a hamstring injury only to spend time sidelined and in hospital with a severe bout of influenza. The WA product was clearly ready to go against West Coast, however, producing a dominant ruck display after five weeks out of the team. English did his first job exceptionally well, winning 28 hit-outs, but it was his ability to spread like an extra midfielder that the Eagles could not contain. His 25 disposals were a season high.

Eagle Callum Jamieson and Bulldog Tim English contest the ruck in the round 11 match at Optus Stadium on May 28, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Darling back in the good books
Premiership forward Jack Darling had earned Bronx cheers at stages this season from his home crowd as he endured a lacklustre start to the year, kicking nine goals in nine games, with all of those coming in the final quarter of matches. There was finally some warmth on Saturday night for the 29-year-old, who booted two early goals and finished with four. Darling no longer appeared compromised by his solo pre-season, and his attack on the contest was back.

Final straw for wounded Eagles
Key defender Jeremy McGovern has been the Eagles' standout player this season and, on multiple occasions, has kept the dam wall from bursting within games. He was the Eagle still standing that the team could least afford to lose, but on Saturday night they did, with McGovern substituted during the second quarter with a back injury. The silver lining in a season that is now all about development is the extra responsibility that will be given to Harry Edwards for any period McGovern is missing.

Jeremy McGovern looks on with teammates after being defeated in round 11 against the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium on May 28, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

WEST COAST                     3.0     5.5     7.5       9.6 (60)
WESTERN BULLDOGS        6.3    10.7    18.9     25.11 (161)

GOALS
West Coast: Darling 4, Gaff, Cripps, Kelly, Kennedy, Williams
Western Bulldogs: Naughton 4, Dunkley 2, Keath 2, McNeil 2, Weightman 2, West 2, Williams 2, Bontempelli, Dale, Duryea, English, Khamis, Liberatore, McComb, Scott, Treloar

BEST
West Coast: Kelly, Redden, Darling, Hough, Gaff
Western Bulldogs: English, Dunkley, Treloar, Naughton, Liberatore, Dale, Macrae

INJURIES
West Coast: McGovern (back)
Western Bulldogs: Nil

SUBSTITUTES
West Coast: Josh Rotham (replaced Jeremy McGovern)
Western Bulldogs: Luke Cleary (unused)