AFL SWANS BULLDOGS
Marcus Bontempelli has marched his undermanned Western Bulldogs to an impressive 28-point win over Sydney at the SCG, where both sides paid tribute to AFL great John Kennedy Snr.
Bontempelli's dominant second term helped the Bulldogs, coming off a six-day break and down to two men on the bench after injuries to Sam Lloyd and Aaron Naughton, prevail 10.7 (67) to 5.9 (39).
"He ignited us. Gave us the momentum," Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.
"It was a good start and we needed it. We were probably just hanging on in the end ... there were some inspiring acts by many of the boys."
The Swans and Bulldogs observed a minute's silence prior to the match in honour of Kennedy, who died on Thursday morning.
Of the various ways that Swans skipper Josh Kennedy imagined his 250th match might unfold, none involved mourning the death of his beloved grandfather.
Kennedy has built a decorated career on shrugging his shoulders and getting on with it, but rarely has that challenge been so immense.
Yet the hulking midfielder lifted in the third quarter as the Swans seized momentum and threatened to stage an epic comeback, while his captain's goal early in the final term cut the Bulldogs' lead to 20 points.
The visitors responded in style, ramping up their pressure to create a couple of turnovers before Jack Macrae soccered a settler and sapped Sydney's morale.
The Swans' tally of 1.3 (9) is their lowest halftime score since 1997 and lowest ever at the SCG.
"You can't get off to a start like that," flat Swans coach John Longmire said, having revealed luckless ruckman Sam Naismith is likely to require another knee reconstruction.
Small forward Tom Papley booted four of Sydney's five goals.
In sharp contrast it was the first time this stop-start season that Beveridge's team broke through the 60-point barrier, while their tackling and relentless pressure in the second half was particularly notable given they were down on rotations.
Key forward Naughton booted a goal then created another with an intercept mark, only to injure his ankle late in the first quarter and play no further part in the contest.
Lloyd also failed to return to the fray after falling heavily on his shoulder in the third term.
Swans young gun Callum Mills was asked to curb the influence of Bontempelli after halftime and did a reasonable job of tagging the Dogs' skipper.
But Bontempelli did plenty of damage when the game was up for grabs in the opening half, booting two goals and tallying 12 touches and four clearances.
Bontempelli also fittingly helped generate the all-important first clearance of the final term, leading to a goal for Rhylee West.
Ruckman Tim English, who played arguably his best ever game for the Bulldogs, Macrae and Bailey Dale were also among the visitors' best.
Macrae was reported for a sloppy spoil on Robbie Fox late in the third quarter.