The Western Bulldogs have moved up to third on the AFL ladder after a gutsy five-point win over Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium.
On a rainy Thursday night, the Bulldogs held on to claim a 7.9 (51) to 6.10 (46) victory over the Suns, playing in a standalone fixture for the first time in the club’s history.
The Bulldogs, playing without former vice-captain Lachie Hunter due to personal reasons, had seven different goalkickers as they claimed their fifth win from their past six matches.
“It’s been a while since we won a close game,” Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.
“It’s a good one for the memory banks and an important night for the lads.”
The Suns fought hard, with Alex Sexton booting three majors, but just could not find the edge to get their noses in front with third-gamer Izak Rankine kicking four behind in the final quarter.
“The Bulldogs early on supported the contest much better and, credit to them, when the game was there to be won they cranked it up,” Suns coach Stuart Dew said.
“It’s a missed opportunity but we can’t question our players’ heart and effort.
“We’re hurt, players are disappointed and that’s a good thing because we expect to win every game and feel like we can.”
The match was an arm-wrestle throughout as both teams enjoyed periods of dominance but were unable to get away from their opponents.
The Dogs got off to a great start but after the Suns weathered an early barrage, two goals by Sexton put them ahead only for a late Tom Liberatore major to ensure the visitors had a two-point advantage at the first break.
It was the Suns turn to smash the Dogs in the second quarter and exciting first-year player Rankine kicked a sweet set shot but another late goal, this time to Patrick Lipinski, left the two-point margin unchanged at halftime.
The third term was a more even affair and it was reflected on the scoreboard as both teams kicked two goals each with the difference remaining at just two points heading into the final term.
Rankine missed a gettable shot early in the fourth quarter which was quickly punished by the Dogs as they pulled clear through back-to-back goals to Ed Richards and Lachlan Young.
The Dogs extended their lead to a game-high 14 points before the Suns struck back with a Ben Ainsworth goal.
Rankine then pulled down a great contested mark but could only kick his fourth behind of the final term, with the Dogs hanging on to claim the win.