Bulldogs bring home VFL premiership
Footscray has won a second Peter Jackson VFL premiership in three years after defeating the Casey Scorpions by 31 points in Sunday’s Legendairy Grand Final at Etihad Stadium.
Trailing by six points at half time, the Bulldogs set up their 13.19 (97) to 10.6 (66) triumph by blowing the Scorpions away with eight unanswered goals in the third quarter, capping a memorable weekend for the club after the Western Bulldogs’ thrilling AFL preliminary-final win on Saturday.
Senior coach Ashley Hansen’s VFL group contained six players who were part of Footscray’s 2014 flag victory over the Box Hill Hawks, including captain Jordan Russell (who stood in as match-day skipper two years ago) and 2016 Norm Goss Medallist Lin Jong.
Just two weeks after breaking his collarbone in an AFL elimination final, Jong was consistently involved in key scoring passages for the Bulldogs, recording 29 disposals, nine marks and six inside-50s, while Russell was the intercepting architect across half back with 24 disposals (19 kicks), nine marks and seven rebound-50s.
* CLICK HERE to read about Norm Goss Medallist Lin Jong's remarkable return from injury on Sunday.
* CLICK HERE to read what Footscray senior coach Ash Hansen had to say about his team's triumph.
Koby Stevens (29 disposals, nine tackles, eight clearances), Lukas Webb (22 disposals, six clearances) and Jed Adcock (18 disposals, 12 tackles, seven inside-50s) were relentless in the contests, while Anthony Barry (21 disposals, seven marks) provided excellent assistance to Russell in defence. Nick Jamieson kicked three goals and Ben Long booted two along with Tom Campbell – who also teamed with Will Minson to control the ruck battle with Jake Spencer and Oscar McInerney.
Casey failed in its quest to win the club’s first premiership since 1999, with senior coach Justin Plapp’s men found wanting after the main break despite fielding 16 Melbourne-listed players compared to Footscray’s 12 Western Bulldogs-listers.
Clayton Oliver consistently looked dangerous at stoppages, racking up a game-high 31 disposals, seven clearances and six tackles for the Scorpions, while Matt Jones (27 disposals), Ben Kennedy (24) and Jack Grimes (24) also found a lot of the ball. Tim Smith (16 disposals, six marks, three goals) was a constant presence in the forward line, with Lynden Dunn (21 disposals, 12 rebound-50s) often disruptive up the other end of the ground, but their efforts weren’t enough.
In the spirit of the Western Bulldogs’ AFL finals campaign, Footscray came out snarling in the first quarter and Casey’s brigade of ball-winners struggled to handle the pressure early. The Bulldogs generated plenty of opportunities inside 50 but could only manage two goals from nine scoring shots, as defensive generals Dunn and captain Jack Hutchins held firm to keep the Scorpions within six points at the first change.
Oliver and Jong often went toe-to-toe in the clinches in the second term. While Oliver burst from congestion and Jong had a hand in both of Footscray’s goals for the quarter, it was Casey’s tall forwards who loomed largest over their undersized opponents. Smith booted two majors in a five-minute patch, while Sam Weideman and Liam Hulett both later converted from marks to send the Scorpions to the main break six points ahead.
Everything changed after half time though. Casey ran headlong into a wall of red, white and blue, with the Bulldogs recording 18 more inside-50s and piling on eight goals in the third quarter while keeping the Scorpions scoreless. Russell and his fellow defenders prevented them from moving the ball from defence with any kind of fluency, as Stevens and Webb established control at the stoppages. Campbell became his team’s tall target inside 50 and booted two majors for the term, while Jamieson kicked another two to close out his team’s stunning 30 minutes of football.
Footscray’s 46-point advantage at the last change was reduced by the final siren, but the many Bulldogs supporters in the crowd of 17,348 who relished their team’s onslaught in the ‘premiership quarter’ wouldn’t have minded one bit.
* CLICK HERE to see the full result, goalkickers and best players.
* CLICK HERE to read about the stats that mattered in Footscray's Grand Final triumph.