The Western Bulldogs have staged a stunning fightback against a spirited Greater Western Sydney to win by 27 points on a sand-covered Manuka Oval in Canberra.
The Giants led at every change – as occurred when the two sides met at the same ground last year – but once again it was the Bulldogs who stormed home with six unanswered goals to to finish 17.8 (110) to 12.11 (83) victors on Saturday.
Two final-quarter goals by impressive Bulldogs forward Liam Jones helped snatched the victory away from the Giants, who didn’t have the legs to replicate last week’s late winning surge against Melbourne.
The result leaves both sides with two wins and two losses after four rounds.
Stewart Crameri (four goals) and Jones (three goals) took the lion’s share of the scoring for the `Dogs, while Matthew Boyd was outstanding with 39 possessions.
Having hosted the Sheffield Shield final just three weeks ago, the Manuka Oval surface was controversially covered in a layer of sand, forcing uncharacteristic errors and threatening injury for both sides.
The Dogs’ Dale Morris might find himself in hot water after a trip on Will Hoskin-Elliot in the first quarter, the duo immediately coming off injured and didn’t return.
GWS ruckman Shane Mumford was a late withdrawal, but replacement Jonathan Giles still managed to hold his own against All-Australian representative Will Minson.
The Giants dominated the first quarter with 22 inside-50s to the Dogs’ six to earn a 26-point lead.
Key Giants forwards Jeremy Cameron, who booted three goals for the match, and Jonathon Patton both stood up early in their side’s five-goal first-term haul.
Cameron’s goal was particularly impressive, firing off a lightning-quick left foot snap in heavy traffic from an acute angle that put the Giants out in front – a lead they wouldn’t surrender until midway through the final quarter.
The Bulldogs hit back in the second term with the help of an advantageous breeze, kicking three straight majors before Cameron intervened with his second of the match and the 100th of his career.
That swung the momentum back GWS’ way to give them a 20-point half-time lead.
Bulldogs captain Ryan Griffen temporarily came off midway through the third quarter after a rib-rattler from Jacob Townsend that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a rugby pitch.
It didn’t halt the Dogs’ momentum, however, pegging the lead back to eight heading into the final term after the once-steady breeze died to a standstill.
With the stage set for a grandstand finish, the Giants extended their lead in controversial circumstances when the Dogs’ Shaun Higgins was controversially denied a free kick.
The home side immediately scored up the other end to give themselves a nine-point lead, but the Dogs would show their class to bounce back.