Can Josh Bruce win the Coleman?
The former Saint has rocketed into Coleman calculations on the back of a career high six-goal performance against North Melbourne. Bruce has struggled at the Kennel in the shadow of young gun Aaron Naughton but reminded the footy world what he is capable of in his absence.
Remarkably, despite his quiet start to the season he now sits just three goals off the lead in the Coleman. With a further five weeks as the number one forward before Naughton returns, can he cement himself in the role and position himself for an unlikely tilt at the AFL’s leading goalkicker award?
How the Game Was Won
Despite Marcus Bontempelli being shaded by Luke McDonald and Bailey Smith ruled out of the match early, it was around the ball that the Bulldogs took control of this contest. With Rhylee West and Pat Lipinski rising to the challenge, they were able to deliver silver service to their forward line. Scores from stoppages highlighting this work with the Dogs outscoring North 8.1 (49) to 3.2 (20) from this source.
While Josh Bruce and co were feasting on their midfielders work, they took 15 marks inside 50 for the match, Ben Brown continued his run of outs at the other. Bulldogs Premiership Skipper Easton Wood compounding Brown’s two possession performance last week by keeping him goalless this week.
Despite the Bulldogs being in the ascendency throughout the first half, with the margin 21-points, the game was still in the balance at half-time. A devastating third-quarter put paid to North Melbourne’s hopes though, with the Dogs kicking five goals to one to all but settle the contest.
What the Coaches Said
As exciting as his teams attack was on the night, Luke Beveridge was keen to praise his defenders post-match. “It’s the third week in a row that we’ve kept an opposition side under 40 points,” he told reporters. “I mentioned after the St Kilda game (in round two) that we’d need to make some adjustments with our defence – not just our back six, but what we were doing around the footy. I just think our back seven – the boys who went through there were outstanding tonight. Our high defenders and our aerialists, and both ‘Keathy’ and Zaine down there deeper, they were just brilliant.”
North Melbourne Coach Rhyce Shaw lamented his team’s inability to compete. “The most disappointing part was just around the contest,” he said. We pride ourselves on that and we are a really tough, contested team. Around the contest was where it was won or lost. We got shown up.”
As disappointed as he was in his own team’s effort he made a point of praising the opposition. “They (the Bulldogs) were really slick … they were really clean and we were just too far away,” he said. “They got out and made the most of their chances, and their forwards took a lot of marks.”
WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.2 5.5 10.6 13.9 (87)
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 2.3 3.5 5.8 (38)
Western Bulldogs: Bruce 6, Wallis 2, Schache 2, Dale, Vandermeer, Richards
North Melbourne: Goldstein 2, Taylor 2, Zurhaar
Western Bulldogs: Bruce, Liberatore, English, Macrae, Wood, McLean, Daniel
North Melbourne: Simpkin, Tarrant, McDonald, Anderson, Dumont, Goldstein
Western Bulldogs: Smith (concussion), Vandermeer (concussion)
North Melbourne: Thomas (concussion), Cunnington (back)