‘Lockett-like’ Lobb keeps Freo’s top four hopes alive as Dogs on life support: 3-2-1

Best three kicks at goal since Plugger | 00:58
Catherine Healey from Fox Sports

The Western Bulldogs’ season is on life support after a Rory Lobb-led Fremantle ground out a 17-point victory at Marvel Stadium.

The Dogs needed a win to stay in touch with the top eight, but it was the Dockers who lifted for the massive encounter to come away with a 14.11 (95) to 11.12 (78) win on Saturday.

Lobb, who reportedly could end up a Bulldog for 2023 and beyond this trade period, kicked four goals in a stunning display.

The victory means the Dockers’ own top four hopes are alive with two rounds remaining.

Round 22
*Odds are current as of 14th August 2022, 9:56am AEST
VIEW ALL SCORES
*Odds are current as of 14th August 2022, 9:56am AEST
VIEW ALL SCORES
*Odds are current as of 14th August 2022, 9:56am AEST
VIEW ALL SCORES
*Odds are current as of 14th August 2022, 9:56am AEST
VIEW ALL SCORES
*Odds are current as of 14th August 2022, 9:56am AEST
VIEW ALL SCORES
*Odds are current as of 14th August 2022, 9:56am AEST
VIEW ALL SCORES
*Odds are current as of 14th August 2022, 9:56am AEST
VIEW ALL SCORES

But the win has come at a cost with Matt Taberner’s troublesome calf flaring once again, and he was subbed out in the third term.

Stream every match of every round of the 2022 Toyota AFL Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >

QUARTER BY QUARTER MATCH REPORT

The Western Bulldogs were out of the gate early, with Tim English blowing an early opportunity before Cody Weightman made no mistake with his set shot.

When Dogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli found himself in space on the wing, he charged forward and hit up the leading Weightman.

“The Fremantle defenders were playing pretty aggressive and taking the front; the only Western Bulldogs forward taking front spot was Weightman,” commentator Garry Lyon praised.

“When he’s kicking goals and making things happen, they are much a better team,” Jason Dunstall added.

But the Dockers found the immediate reply through Matt Taberner.

Taberner, who had Dogs debutant Sam Darcy as his first opponent before he shifted over to Griffin Logue when he headed forward, led to the pocket and calmly slotted his first for the day from the tight angle.

“That’s a beautiful kick that,” Lyon praised.

Rory Lobb had the beautiful finish to give Fremantle the lead after the chip kick down the other end missed Aaron Naughton and Alex Pearce pounced.

“When they’ve turned it over, they’ve been hurt on the scoreboard,” Dunstall said.

When Michael Walters copped one high, Griffin Logue took full advantage over the back of the pack and goaled from the square.

“We’re seeing some transition from this Dockers’ side finally,” Lyon said.

“Their willingness to play on and get something moving is providing them some good looks going forward.

“Their three talls, Taberner, Logue and Lobb have all hit the scoreboard.”

Weightman locked the ball inside the Dogs’ attacking 50 with repeat pressure efforts and it ended with the ball in Bailey Smith’s hands.

He made no mistake from the boundary with a brilliant snap that stunned both Lyon and Dunstall.

“That’s extraordinary,” Lyon said.

“He’s done it before so we know it’s no fluke.”

Laitham Vandermeer gave the Dogs the lead seconds later as he found himself front and square from 15m out.

But again the Dockers pressed and Michael Frederick got on the end of a bullet pass from Heath Chapman to reclaim the lead for Freo.

“There was traffic coming. He didn’t know if he’d get poleaxed but he kept his eyes on the footy,” Dunstall praised.

When Matt Taberner pulled down his second mark inside 50 with just 10 seconds remaining in the first, he went back after the siren to extend Freo’s lead to nine points.

Lobb continued to provide a contest forward in the second term, despite looking sore.

And the ability of Fremantle’s small forwards to lock the ball in and pressure every exit paid off when Lachie Schultz drew a free kick for a high fend.

“This is what has been missing – the defensive pressure. Their defensive work has to be going through the roof (when playing small) and today it is,” Lyon praised.

“They’d be over the moon about what they’ve been able to do forward of centre.

“This is when you know they are switched on.

“Really good signs for Justin Longmuir’s group here.”

Naughton managed to pull one back for the Dogs, but Fremantle’s uncontested marking game was allowed to continue in the second and the patience paid off when Lobb pushed the margin back to 17 points.

“This is going away from the grain of the way they normally play,” Lyon said.

“The (Dogs) have been denied the footy.”

“They are finding the angles, changing the approach and it’s creating space for players to lead into,” Dunstall said.

The Dogs fluffed their best chance for the second term when Bontempelli streamed away from half back.

For the first time in the quarter, Bontempelli found the space to run the ball but Naughton headed to the square and his skipper just couldn’t get it to him.

“He was desperate for someone to come at him! He’s streamed from half back, run 70-odd metres, taken three or four bounces, then you want him to kick it 60 over the top!” Dunstall lamented.

Down the other end, Lobb added his third from range and suddenly Freo had a 23-point lead.

“Three of the best bombs you’ll see!” Cameron Mooney praised.

Marcus Bontempelli went forward but couldn’t manage to score from the pocket. Down the other end, Michael Walters outfoxed Adam Treloar and the Dogs’ season looked under threat.

“It’s trouble in paradise for the Dogs,” commentator Dwayne Russell said.

“This is season on the line stuff now,” Lyon added.

“Half time can’t come quick enough for Luke Beveridge,” Dunstall quipped.

Naughton was able to once again get a goal back for his side as Fremantle took a 23-point lead into the main break.

Andy Brayshaw gave the Dockers the best start to the third when he was left alone 45m out inside 50.

“I love this kick; the Dogs’ defence had pushed back on Lobb and Taberner. Hit the kick in front of you. It’s been there all day,” Lyon praised.

But a “horrible error” by young Docker Nathan O’Driscoll gifted the Dogs the breakthrough they needed to get back into the contest.

Instead of bending down and rushing the footy for a behind, a “lazy” O’Driscoll opted to go off the deck and accidentally put the ball out on the full.

Naughton took advantage of the free kick as Jason Dunstall said he hoped the young Docker learnt a lesson.

“That’s a horrible error – it should have been an easy rush through, he should have used his hands not his feet,” he said.

“This should never have been out on the full.

“Bend your back. You go for a kick off the deck … he’ll learn and hopefully never do that again.”

When Bontempelli burst through a two-man tackle and got the hands to Cody Weightman, it was the Dogs running hot as the margin closed to 17 points.

“They are their own worst enemies the Dockers with the lazy kick from (Brennan) Cox coming out of defence, and O’Driscoll’s error,” Dunstall said.

“They’ve just created pressure for themselves. Now they’ve got to dig – now they’ve got to fight.”

“It’s up to the Dockers to meet this challenge because they’ve got some heat on the ball here the Dogs,” Lyon added.

When Lobb added his fourth for the match, this time from directly in front 50m out, all the Western Bulldogs’ good work counted for nothing.

Lobb had two chances to extend Fremantle’s lead but couldn’t convert.

It took young O’Driscoll to make up for his earlier error as he streamed forward, burnt Jack Macrae and kicked truly from 50m out.

“It’s unbelievable,” Lyon praised.

“How’s the celebration too?”

The game went up a notch in the dying minutes of the third term as Fremantle were able to hold out the Dogs.

And when the ball got to the back of a pack on the wing, Michael Frederick and Caleb Serong streamed forward to hit Blake Acres on his chest from 25m directly in front. But he hit the post.

“Oh he’s missed a sitter!” Dunstall said.

“They are kicks that can decide this game today.”

And the Dockers were made to pay for Acres’ inaccuracy as Josh Dunkley brought the margin to just 18 points.

But once again, Fremantle found the response – this time through Michael Frederick.

“They just can’t close this three-goal margin,” Lyon said.

“They’ve had 17 inside 50s for 4.3 while the Dockers have only had 10 and kicked 4.4.”

Josh Bruce had the crowd up and about when he took a big grab to start the final term, but his shot just scraped the post as the Dogs pressed to close within three goals.

A “horrible” kick by Sean Darcy saw him cop a spray from teammates when he elected to bomb it long to his opponent Tim English in the square instead of finding a target from 60m out.

But despite all the Dogs’ pressure and run, after a goalless 14 minutes it was Fremantle who broke the deadlock.

A costly 50m penalty against Sam Darcy for his leading knee brought Lachie Schultz to the arc, but he found Michael Frederick 40m out and he delivered.

“He’s kicked three straight, Lobb’s only had the seven possessions and he’s kicked four goals,” Dunstall said.

“They’ve been too good.”

Tim English got the Dogs “off the canvas” with seven minutes to go as tired Dockers fell off the chase and the ruckman set sail from 40m out.

The Dogs blew a golden opportunity to close within three goals when Brennan Cox missed the target coming out of defence.

But the Dogs couldn’t find a free player and coughed it back up to Jordan Clark.

“I don’t know what Cox was thinking down back! Pressure does funny things to players,” Dunstall said.

Clark again put his body on the line, going back with the flight as Bruce and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan came hard to deny the Dogs another shot on goal.

The Dockers were able to run down the clock in the dying minutes and lock in their first finals appearance since 2015.

THE 3-2-1...

3. THE RUN HOME

Fremantle has secured a significant win over the Western Bulldogs with key finals ramifications for both clubs.
It marks the Dockers’ first win since Round 17 against St Kilda in a timely bounce-back performance as both their top four, and flags hopes at large dwindled.

Justin Longmuir’s side has now climbed back into the top four – if only momentarily – pending on the outcome of Sydney’s clash with North Melbourne and Brisbane’s meeting with Carlton.

Freo crucially has a friendly run home too, facing West Coast and GWS in its last two matches to make a top-four finish very conceivable.

It meanwhile marks a big blow to the Western Bulldogs, who’ll stay in 10th position by the end of the round, but could find themselves as much as two games outside the top eight.

The Dogs are now relying on both Richmond and St Kilda to drop their clashes against Port Adelaide Geelong respectively to have any hope of staying in the finals hunt in a drastic drop off from last year’s grand final appearance.

Although they too have a cushiony run home, facing GWS and Hawthorn, but won’t be able to step a foot wrong from here.

2. ‘LOCKETT-LIKE’ LOBB STARS IN DOGS’ AUDITION

Fremantle are desperate to keep Rory Lobb until the end of his deal in 2023, and the big forward showed why against the Dogs on Saturday.

Lobb, widely tipped to request a trade to Melbourne at season’s end after his unsuccessful attempt to depart at the end of 2021, was simply brilliant for the Dockers.

Despite appearing sore and hampered by an ongoing shoulder complaint, Lobb took three massive grabs and slotted “three of the best bombs you’ll see”, according to Fox Footy’s Cameron Mooney.

Rory Lobb gets the mark on the 50m arc. Picture: Daniel PockettSource: Getty Images

By half time, Lobb had just three kicks and three marks to his name – but he also had the three goals which all came from long range.

“Mundane the first, extraordinary the second and tucked into the boundary for the third. He just went back and slotted it and made you (Dunstall) look like an idiot,” commentator Garry Lyon laughed.

“That is as good an exhibition of three kicks at goal since ‘Plugger’ Lockett.

“(Dogs defender) Zaine Cordy is sitting there going, this doesn’t happen!

“’What more can I do? I’ve put him out on 55m on the angle and he’s still bombing it over my head!’” Mooney quickly added.

Fox Footy great Jason Dunstall was full of praise for Lobb’s day out.

“They are the best three kicks for a three-kick player to have three goals,” he said.

“He’s kicked them all from 50m or just outside, he’s had to run out on the arc three times to get the extra leg into it and he’s threaded the needle three times from only three kicks.”

Lobb finished with four goals at Marvel Stadium.

1. DARCY SHOWS WHY HE’S CONSIDERED THE DOGS’ FUTURE

Coach Luke Beveridge put plenty of faith in debutant Sam Darcy when he sent him back to man up big Dockers forward Matt Taberner.

And Darcy didn’t disappoint early.

He took a contested grab and while he shanked his first disposal, he didn’t look overwhelmed or out of place in the Dogs’ defence.

He took a second big grab and kept Taberner goalless while his direct opponent before moving across to Griffin Logue when he headed forward.

Son of a Dogs gun has mixed AFL debut | 00:41

“We’ve loved the effort of Sam Darcy on debut,” Jason Dunstall said.

“He backs himself when he’s got a chance to get his hands on the ball.”

“I reckon he went for eight (marks) and he’s playing centre half back on Taberner,” Fox Footy’s Garry Lyon added.

Lyon said the Dogs should be excited by what the father-son selection can offer them for the future – whether that’s as a back or forward.

“He is the highest pedigree young colt so of course we’ll be interested about his capacities,” Lyon said.

“This is just the start of a long, long career.

“Luke Beveridge has got a 210cm phenom on his hands that will be around for a long time.”

Darcy is a third generation player, after his grandfather David played 133 games for the club and dad Luke played 226 games.

“(Darcy) is what the Western Bulldogs desperately need in their defensive 50 – someone to take a big contested mark,” Dunstall said.

“Sometimes you only need a glimpse and there’s a glimpse. Their biggest problem might be where they are going to play him,” Lyon added.

“I know they need it in the back half but by hell he’ll be good down the other end.

“He knows what he’s doing.”

If you can‘t see the blog, tap here.