WESTERN Bulldogs midfielder Lin Jong's remarkable bid to line up in the Grand Final continued on Sunday after a best-on-ground performance in Footscray's 31-point VFL premiership triumph over the Casey Scorpions at Etihad Stadium.
Jong's season looked over when he broke his right collarbone in the Dogs' elimination final against West Coast, but he returned only 16 days after surgery and collected 29 disposals, nine marks, six inside 50s and four clearances.
He was awarded the Norm Goss Medal for his outstanding game.
After a tight first half, Footscray broke the game open in the third term with eight goals – while holding the Scorpions scoreless – to run out 13.19 (97) to 10.6 (66) winners in front of 17,348 spectators.
Lynden Dunn tested Jong's shoulder after the Bulldog hit the post with a set shot following the quarter-time siren. The two clashed straight after the kick and sparked an all-in melee.
But the Scorpions may have been confused about which shoulder to target with Jong strapping his 'good' left shoulder, not his right one.
Jong spent most of his time in the midfield but also had stints up forward, with his work to set up two Ben Long goals impressive. Long is the nephew of former Essendon star Michael.
Dogs coach Ashley Hansen paid tribute to Jong's game.
"A really special performance from a special player. We saw in Perth how much the football club and playing in a finals series means to Lin, and for him to perform how he did today is testament to himself," Hansen said after the game.
"He put himself in a position where he was right to go. We weren't going to take any risks.
"I thought if we got a good contribution out of him, we would have been pretty happy, but for him to do what he did was pretty remarkable."
Jong, 23, will be out of contract at the end of the season and was caught touring Collingwood's facilities during the year, and has also been linked to Gold Coast.
Will Minson, an All Australian ruckman in 2013, had 11 disposals and 32 hit-outs. He and Tom Campbell loom as the most likely replacements for Jordan Roughead if the ruckman is not passed fit after he copped a football to his right eye in Saturday's preliminary final win over Greater Western Sydney.
Roughead was forced to sit out the game after he left the field in the second quarter with hyphema, which involves blood collecting in the eye. It caused Roughead's vision to be impaired.
Campbell was largely used as a key forward and kicked two goals. His influential third quarter was important in helping the Dogs win.
UP THE SCRAY!!!!! ⚪️— Easton Wood (@easton_wood) September 25, 2016
The Western Bulldogs face the Sydney Swans next Saturday as they attempt to win the club's second flag.
Lynden Dunn and Lin Jong get up close and personal. Pictures: AFL Photos