AFL Bulldogs’ Duryea cleared of serious neck injury

Shayne Hope |

Taylor Duryea suffered a neck injury in Western Bulldogs’ practice match against North Melbourne.
Taylor Duryea suffered a neck injury in Western Bulldogs’ practice match against North Melbourne.

The Western Bulldogs have breathed a collective sigh of relief after defender Taylor Duryea was cleared of a serious neck injury following a 58-point AFL practice match thumping of North Melbourne.

There were concerns when Duryea was sent to hospital in a neck brace after he was hurt under the weight of a tackle during the first quarter at Ikon Park on Saturday.

“He got a little knock to the neck but all the scans have cleared him of any injury,” Bulldogs assistant coach Rohan Smith said.

“He feels OK, so that’s a real positive for us.

“We’ll see how he recovers and talk to the doctors … he’s just going to have a little bit of a rest now.

“He’ll probably introduce himself through training this week and hopefully be right for round one.”

The Bulldogs also lost Ed Richards (corked leg) and Hayden Crozier (dislocated finger) to injuries, while Alex Keath was cleared of concussion after a head clash with Rory Lobb.

All are expected to be available when the Dogs open their season against Melbourne on March 18.

Gun midfielders Tom Liberatore and Marcus Bontempelli starred against North Melbourne in the Bulldogs’ comfortable 22.11 (143) to 13.7 (85) victory.

Ex-Carlton defender Liam Jones, who has re-joined the Bulldogs after sitting out of the AFL last season, was in fine touch on his return.

The 32-year-old had nine disposals and five marks in a busy first term, finishing with 19 and 11.

He slotted into a re-jigged defensive unit alongside fellow talls Keath and Josh Bruce, with Ryan Gardner sidelined by an elbow injury.

How the Dogs make best use of their many key position players is an intriguing question mark heading into the season proper.

Aaron Naughton (four goals), Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (three), Sam Darcy (two) and Lobb (one) all played forward and hit the scoreboard against North Melbourne, while Lobb also backed up Tim English in the ruck.

Anthony Scott booted three goals, with young speedster Arthur Jones, Bontempelli, and Liberatore adding two each.

Liberatore had 33 disposals and nine clearances, while Bontempelli had 27 and 10.

Co-captain Jy Simpkin (31 disposals) was good for North Melbourne and veteran Ben Cunnington had 27 disposals and nine clearances in a strong performance, while key forward Nick Larkey finished with three goals from eight touches.

No.3 draft pick Harry Sheezel had 21 disposals and seven score involvements, and capped his impressive form with a clever goal.

Cam Zurhaar was withdrawn before halftime with calf tightness, with the Kangaroos taking the safe option ahead of a round-one meeting with West Coast.