Bontempelli brilliance well worth the wait for Bulldogs

Oliver Caffrey |

Marcus Bontempelli’s incredible final quarter led the Western Bulldogs to victory over Collingwood.
Marcus Bontempelli’s incredible final quarter led the Western Bulldogs to victory over Collingwood.

THEY SAID IT: “I love footy and I love our game, and I think the position we have as leaders of the community, we need to do the best job we possibly can around discrimination.” – Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell after an unnamed Hawks player was targeted in a racist social media post.

PLAYER OF THE ROUND: Not even a record-breaking Nick Daicos performance was enough to overshadow Marcus Bontempelli at Marvel Stadium on Friday night. The Western Bulldogs captain willed his side to victory as they overwhelmed Collingwood with five unanswered goals in the final quarter of a tight contest. Bontempelli stepped up when needed most, tallying 14 touches, five clearances and one vital goal in the fourth term. Those numbers swelled his full-game stats to 38 disposals, 10 clearances and two goals – and most likely three Brownlow votes.

THE MOMENT: Is Auzzie the Eagle going to lose her job? West Coast’s live animal mascot does a flying lap of the oval before every West Coast home match, but she made a dramatic escape before Saturday’s game against St Kilda. Auzzie refused to come back to her handler, and instead landed several times among the crowd. She was free for more than 10 minutes before finally being captured next to West Coast’s coaches’ box.

TALKING POINT: Every coach was asked about the AFL’s controversial tweaking of the holding-the-ball rule this weekend. Carlton’s Michael Voss was a fan, but dual Geelong premiership coach Chris Scott was not as impressed, saying it was “not ideal” the Cats had to change the way they play mid-season: “We need to think it through a little bit. Normally, you’re sort of working through these things over a four-month pre-season.”

Alex Pearce.
Alex Pearce captained the Dockers for a 50th time in the club’s huge win over Melbourne. (Rob Prezioso/AAP PHOTOS)

STAT THAT MATTERS: Fremantle intercept king Alex Pearce became the fourth Indigenous AFL/VFL player to captain a club in at least 50 games when he led his side to a 92-point thumping of Melbourne in Alice Springs. Pearce joins past greats Graham Farmer (Geelong), Adam Goodes (Sydney) and Gavin Wanganeen (Port Adelaide) in achieving the feat.

TRIBUNAL WATCH: Emerging superstar Harley Reid has been hit with the first suspension of his AFL career, offered a two-match ban for slinging Saints youngster Darcy Wilson to the ground in the third quarter of Saturday’s 14-point loss to St Kilda. Western Bulldogs ruckman Sam Darcy was second favourite to win the Rising Star award, but is set to become ineligible as well after sustaining a two-week ban for his late hit on Collingwood’s Brayden Maynard.

INJURIES: M King (St K, knee), J Harmes (WB, hamstring), L Vandermeer (WB, hamstring), O Henry (Geel, hamstring), M Lefau (Rich, knee), L Hunter (Melb, calf), T Walker (Adel, back).

WHAT’S NEXT: Adelaide host injury-stricken Richmond in a soft start to round 13. The Western Bulldogs are at home to the Brisbane Lions on Friday night in a vital match for both of the inconsistently performing teams. Hawthorn will be looking to keep their superb form going when they head to Launceston for a clash with GWS. West Coast host winless North Melbourne at Optus Stadium in a golden opportunity for the Kangaroos to break their losing run. On Super Sunday, ladder leaders Sydney are at home to Geelong, while old rivals Essendon and Carlton will clash in a MCG blockbuster. The round finishes with the traditional King’s Birthday game between Collingwood and Melbourne.