Naughton stars as Dogs upset Cats
THE AFL premiership race has taken another twist, with the resurgent Western Bulldogs stunning ladder-leaders Geelong by 16 points at Marvel Stadium.
Young gun Aaron Naughton booted two clutch majors in Saturday night’s final quarter, as the Bulldogs stormed from behind to prevail 10.11 (71) to 7.13 (55) and keep their finals hopes alive.
Naughton finished with four goals and broke what had been a scrappy encounter wide open, while star midfielder Marcus Bontempelli was sublime with 27 disposals, six inside-50s and a goal.
The Cats remain a game clear at the top of the ladder but have lost two of their past three games, having also fallen to Port Adelaide in round 14.
They became the latest premiership contender to fall after Collingwood’s second- straight loss and Essendon’s upset of GWS in round 15.
The result lifts the Bulldogs to 11th on the ladder and they sit just four points shy of the top eight, having built on last week’s impressive away win over Port Adelaide.
Geelong led for much of the game but looked a long way off their best and began to lose the midfield battle in the third quarter.
Cats coach Chris Scott sent superstar forward Gary Ablett into the middle at the start of the fourth term, but the Dogs won the centre clearance and drew first blood through Naughton.
Bontempelli was pivotal in helping his side snatch the lead, first converting from a mark one-out in the goal square before setting up Naughton’s fourth goal.
Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins’ late major gave the Cats some hope, but the ladder leaders didn’t have the legs to match the inspired Bulldogs.
Key defenders Tom Stewart and Harry Taylor were influential for the Cats in a low-scoring clash riddled with errors from both sides.
Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield gathered 23 disposals and two goals, showing no ill effects from the heavy knock to the hip he copped during last week’s win over Adelaide.
The Cats went a man down when Jake Kolodjashnij was concussed by an inadvertent knee to the head from teammate Jordan Clark in a first-quarter marking contest.
Geelong host St Kilda next Saturday night at GMHBA Stadium, while the Bulldogs will prepare for a Sunday clash with Melbourne at Marvel Stadium.
© AAP 2019
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.4 3.5 5.7 10.11 (71)
GEELONG 3.5 4.8 6.11 7.13 (55)
Goals: Western Bulldogs: A Naughton 4 S Lloyd 3 B Smith M Bontempelli T Dickson. Geelong: P Dangerfield 2 T Hawkins 2 G Rohan J Selwood T Kelly.
Umpires: Matt Stevic, Shane McInerney, Nick Brown.
Official Crowd: 35,641 at Marvel Stadium.