Ladder-leading Swans hold off brave, depleted Dogs

If it wasn’t clear last week, Chad Warner isn’t playing second fiddle to Isaac Heeney any longer.

The superstar midfielders are sharing the same fiddle and could turn the Brownlow Medal count into a two-Swan race after a dominant four-goal performance from Warner broke the backs of the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Thursday night.

Warner struck the killer blow with 10 disposals and two third-term goals just when the Bulldogs were left reeling with their two most in-form players, Aaron Naughton (knee) and Ed Richards (concussion), ruled out of the match.

But the home side desperately clawed back into the contest late in the final term and were left to rue a controversial 50m penalty which resulted in a shower of boos on the final siren.

A brilliant snap goal from Jamarra Ugle-Hagan had cut the margin back to eight points, but with just over two minutes left, big Swan Hayden McLean was marched to the goal square for the lightest of infringements and put the game beyond doubt.

ladder-leading swans hold off brave, depleted dogs

Ladder-leading Swans hold off brave, depleted Dogs

Laitham Vandermeer was penalised for knocking the ball out of McLean’s hands, but the Bulldog could have argued he was in the marking contest and the Swans forward was still airborne when he slapped the ball away.

Richards was continuing his rich vein of form and had been the Bulldogs’ best player before a head clash with Ollie Florent early in the third term left him sidelined along with Naughton and Anthony Scott, who will also miss at least one week with concussion.

SWANS SNUB HIA

Bulldogs forward Anthony Scott entered concussion protocols and was subbed out after a heavy clash of heads with Swans defender Harry Cunningham five minutes into the game.

While Scott was ordered straight off the field by trainers, Cunningham stayed out on the field after the Swans doctors deemed he did not require a concussion test.

The decision was a surprise given Cunningham was knocked out cold two months ago in the round 2 collision with Essendon’s Peter Wright.

The experienced defender rolled an ankle in the second quarter but was among the Swans’ best as he played out the game.

ladder-leading swans hold off brave, depleted dogs

YOUNG PUP’S BIG CHANCE

Ryley Sanders was only handed the sub vest after James O’Donnell was a late withdrawal due to illness, but then found himself on the field within 10 minutes after Scott’s concussion.

With only two on the bench by the third term, the No. 6 pick had an opportunity to prove he could run out a full game, but a final term without a kick means questions over his readiness for senior level will remain.

Dogs fans still got an exciting look at what Sanders will soon produce more often – he found seven touches in the third term, used the ball well on his right foot and laid two crunching tackles in the middle of the ground.

BIG BULLY BRODIE

Brodie Grundy’s plan against opposite ruckman Tim English was obvious from the first centre bounce.

The big Swan tried to ragdoll English four times in the ruck and at marking contests in the opening minutes.

He got away with it until the fourth occasion when he was pinged for a free kick and proceeded to give away a 50m penalty with a round-arm clip to English’s guts.

He gave away the goal, but Grundy clearly beat his man for the rest of the game and won a game-high seven clearances of his own.

BULLDOGS 4.3, 7.8, 8.11, 12.16 (88)

SWANS 4.1, 7.4, 12.6, 16.6 (102)

BOURKE’S BEST Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Treloar, Ugle-Hagan, Dale, Richards, Garcia. Swans: Warner, Gulden, Grundy, Papley, Florent, Heeney.

GOALS Bulldogs: Ugle-Hagan 3, Garcia 2, Darcy, English, Naughton, West, Vandermeer, Harmes, Gallagher. Swans: Warner 4, Hayward 2, Amartey 2, McLean 2, Papley, Gulden, McDonald, Wicks, Adams, Heeney.

UMPIRES Mollison, Stephens, Toner, Williamson

INJURIES Bulldogs: Naughton (knee), Richards (concussion), Scott (concussion). Swans: nil.

CROWD 27,377 at Marvel Stadium

BOURKE’S VOTES

3. Chad Warner (Syd)

2. Errol Gulden (Syd)

1. Marcus Bontempelli (WB)

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