ANOTHER Marcus Bontempelli masterclass has inspired the Western Bulldogs to a spirited 19-point AFL victory against fellow flag fancies Port Adelaide.
Bontempelli’s 26 disposals featured two goals and seven inside-50s in his side’s 15.6 (96) to 12.5 (77) triumph in Saturday night’s high-class affair at Adelaide Oval.
The skipper’s tenacious teammate Tom Liberatore was also superb, with 27 touches and a dozen clearances as the Bulldogs took top spot on the ladder.
Melbourne can regain top-billing with a win over Carlton on Sunday while Port slip from third to fifth after their third loss of the season.
The Power, apart from a purple patch in the second quarter, were overwhelmed by the slick Dogs who bank an eighth win from nine starts.
The Doggies’ renowned midfield was in top form: Bontempelli, Liberatore, Jack Macrae (32 disposals), Adam Treloar (26), Bailey Dale (23), and Bailey Smith (25) were prolific ball-winners.
Forward Aaron Naughton booted four goals and took a trademark hanger of a mark, the lively Cody Weightman scored three, and Jason Johannisen and Josh Bruce kicked two apiece.
Port on-ballers Ollie Wines (32 disposals) and Travis Boak (30 possessions), and defender Darcy Byrne-Jones (24 touches) were gallant, while Mitch Georgiades, Charlie Dixon and Orazio Fantasia kicked two majors each.
The Dogs blitzed Port early, booting five consecutive goals in a stunning 16-minute burst in the first term orchestrated by the brilliance of Bontempelli and Liberatore’s grunt around the packs.
The visitors led 6.2 to 2.1 at quarter-time despite losing defender Easton Wood to a left leg injury.
But the tide turned Port’s way in remarkable fashion in the second stanza as the home side scored five unanswered goals from five inside-50s in a tick over nine explosive minutes.
The sudden surge gave Port the lead and was only halted when Bontempelli scored his second major from a dubious in-the-back free kick.
Port defender Tom Clurey was substituted out with a jaw injury following an accidental clash of heads as the Bulldogs took a one-point halftime lead courtesy of a late Johannisen goal.
The Dogs then gained a vital edge in the third term, booting four goals to one with Bontempelli and Liberatore again prominent.
Two of the visitor’s goals came from Naughton: one after his head was driven into the ground by a Tom Jonas tackle; the other after he climbed onto Jonas’ shoulders for a spectacular high mark.
The Bulldogs held a 21-point buffer at three-quarter time but, in the last term, Port rallied to twice sneak within eight points.
But the Bulldogs’ Weightman sealed the win: with less than four minutes remaining, he crumbed a pack in the goal-square and snapped over his head, with his teammate Naughton soon adding another.
(C) AAP 2021
WESTERN BULLDOGS 6.2 8.2 12.5 15.6 (96)
PORT ADELAIDE 2.1 8.1 9.4 12.5 (77)
Goals: Western Bulldogs: A Naughton 4 C Weightman 3 J Bruce 2 J Johannissen 2 M Bontempelli 2 L McNeil M Hannan. Port Adelaide: C Dixon 2 M Georgiades 2 O Fantasia 2 H Hartlett K Amon O Wines R Gray S Powell-Pepper W Drew.
Umpires: Mathew Nicholls, Craig Fleer, John Howorth.
Official Crowd: 32,787 at Adelaide Oval.