Sport AFL Physical Bulldogs edge Melbourne

Physical Bulldogs edge Melbourne

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The Western Bulldogs have emerged victorious in an AFL war of attrition against Melbourne, winning 15.9 (99) to 12.11 (83).

Watched on by thousands of pink poncho-wearing supporters from the pre-game `Field of Women’ breast cancer awareness event, the Bulldogs were powered home by Stewart Crameri, who kicked two late goals.

The Demons had the lead with less than ten minutes remaining, and will rue indecision in their forward 50.

They had a dozen more entries into their forward line, with Matt Jones missing two gilt-edged changes to kick final-term goals.

But when the game needed a key forward to take the game by the scruff of the neck, it was Crameri who stood tall.

His four-goal haul helped deny a spirited Melbourne back-to-back wins for the first time in three seasons, and snaps the Bulldogs’ three-match losing streak.

The key concern for coach Brendan McCartney will be interest on hits by Liam Jones and Shaun Higgins.

The Bulldogs led for the first half without kicking away, keeping the Demons scoreless for the opening 17 minutes.

The impressive James Frawley got the Demons rolling, with fellow big man Chris Dawes finding the middle in a scrappy first term.

When Crameri had his second goal within a minute of the re-start, the Bulldogs had a 14-point lead.

But Melbourne responded, with former Whitten Oval favourite Daniel Cross leading the charge.

Tom Williams then sold Colin Garland a dummy, wheeling round and kicking truly to restore the margin to eight.

The two sides were going goal for goal when a pair of injuries threatened the Bulldogs.

Tory Dickson was substituted after failing to shake a shoulder injury incurred in the first quarter, before Williams called for a trainer in the quarter’s dying minutes.

He returned for a frenetic third quarter, with five lead-changes, and appeared to recover from a calf complaint by kicking three for the night.

The intensity had lifted, which Dean Terlich felt acutely when he was laid out by Jones.

But no side was able to kick away until the game’s final minutes.

With six minutes remaining, Lynden Dunn shook his head in disbelief as Crameri converted from a dicey hands in the back free kick to give the Bulldogs a five point lead.

From there, the Bulldogs never looked back, with Jason Tutt giving the Bulldogs a 16-point lead on the siren – the biggest margin of the match.