Bulldogs coach, Steven Pollock, made a long awaited return to the middle on Sunday as the Bulldogs took on St George in a battle of second and third place on the ladder.
At 2:30pm at Henson Park, Pollock lined up with the team for the first time in Premier Division and added to a strong Bulldogs side which was already bolstered by the promotion of under-19 prodigy, Nick Blakey. Blakey, son of former Fitzroy and North Melbourne star; John Blakey, is touted as a future draft pick and has a busy AFL schedule meaning this is the only game he was available for the Premier division.
The Dogs used the skills these additions afforded them to take home what was a close match for the most part by 42 points. Blakey helped himself to six majors along the way, ably supported by another young rising star, Jack Buckley, who slotted four goals.
Bulldogs co-captain, Jack McAnespie said both Blakey and Pollock gave the team a much needed boost and “really made a difference”.
“It’s a big positive in terms of the experience [Pollock] brings and the extra tall that he is. It’s just another quality option,” McAnespie said. “[Blakey] knows bloody well what he can do. He has good hands and is good below the knees when the ball hits the deck as well.”
Meanwhile, co-captain Jeremy Daniher made clear that just because Pollock was their coach, didn’t mean he would escape any stick that might be hurled his way due to his four behinds.
However, not all of Pollock’s shots were wayward. He opened the scoring for the match in the first quarter with a goal. St George didn’t take it lying down and answered quickly with a behind and a goal. But after the resumption the Dogs put away two goals and took the advantage. The quick turnarounds endemic of the high intensity both teams came out with. Though, St George soon boxed the ball into their forward 50 and put high pressure on the Dogs defensive line, however, they couldn’t make the most out of the opportunities. Scoring only one goal and three behinds. The Dogs managed to put away one more goal off a breakaway to end the quarter. The first period of play ended with the Dogs on 42 (7.0) to St George’s 17 (2.5).
The second period started with a similar intensity, both teams putting the pressure on the defensive players. In the end, it took 15 minutes for the quarter’s first goal to be scored; a product of solid Dogs movement and cool heads under pressure. However, this didn’t open the floodgates for the Dogs, as St George responded well and ensured that the ball wouldn’t leave their attacking 50 for the rest of the half. This time they took full toll of their opportunities, scoring three goals. As the teams entered the sheds, the score read 51 (8.3) to UNSW-ES and 40 (5.10) for St George.
However, the good work done by St George to ensure that the Bulldogs didn’t end the first half with a decisive lead went to waste in the third quarter. The St George defense was sloppy as the Dogs charged forward to score 32 unanswered points in the first 20 minutes. St George could only respond with four behinds, meaning that they would needed something special in the final quarter to make the game a contest. The scoreline read 89 (14.5) to the Bulldogs and 44 (5.14) to St George.
St George kept the final quarter even, but it was not enough after the blowout third quarter to make the game interesting. They scored four more goals, but the Dogs answered in kind to crack 100 points for the game and seal the win. St George ending 42 behind with 72 (9.18) to the Dogs 114 (18.6).
UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs : N. Blakey 6, J. Buckley 4, S. Pollock 2, J. Bartholomaeus 2, M. Thompson 2, M. Lower 1, A. Foote 1
St George Dragons : N. Shaw 2, D. Donohue 2, L. Maze 1, J. Hill 1, B. Jones 1, K. Merson 1, A. Wynn 1
UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs : N. Blakey, M. Lower, L. Essenstam, J. Buckley, D. Cordell, J. Deep
St George Dragons : D. Michalak, A. Wynn, B. Jones, D. Donohue, N. Shaw, B. Addison