Marcus Bontempelli is being hailed for another superstar performance after spearheading the Western Bulldogs to a thrilling seven-point AFL victory over West Coast.
The Bulldogs overturned a 13-point deficit midway through the final term to pip the Eagles in a Sunday classic at Marvel Stadium.
In a topsy-turvy game that included 14 lead changes, Bontempelli iced the match with less than a minute remaining by calmly kicking his third goal in a heroic performance.
The Bulldogs skipper was the difference, stepping up early and late to finish with 30 touches as his team held on to win 14.16 (100) to 14.9 (93).
Jermaine Jones put the Eagles back in front at the 27-minute mark with a roving goal in the square, but the Bulldogs hit back immediately through Aaron Naughton to reclaim the lead.
West Coast still had their chances to pinch the win but Bulldogs defender Bailey Williams spoiled Eagles forward Liam Ryan’s marking attempt inside-50, before setting up the passage of play that resulted in Bontempelli’s game-saving mark and goal.
“He’s done it before, Marcus, he’s lifted us,” Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.
“That coolness under pressure and understanding the stage of the game; seconds off the clock at that point in time were pretty important.
“He showed great composure to be able to do that. The boys really clicked into gear and went into a mode to keep our noses in front.”
After West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui powered the visitors out of the middle for most of the game, the Bulldogs’ midfielders responded in the final term.
Bontempelli and the prolific Jack Macrae (40 possessions) were outstanding all match, but ex-Collingwood onballer Adam Treloar lifted late.
The Eagles appeared to be streaming away to a rousing victory when they piled on three quick goals just before three-quarter time to turn a seven-point deficit into a 12-point lead at the final change.
Josh Bruce captured form to kick three majors in one of his better performances since joining the club last year, while two of Naughton’s three majors came in the crucial final quarter.
West Coast’s forwards, led by the evergreen Josh Kennedy, took hold of the Bulldogs’ defence to make the most of limited opportunities.
Kennedy, who has kicked more goals against the Bulldogs than any other club, was on fire with four majors, while Ryan slotted two and almost brought down multiple mark-of-the-year contenders.
Jack Darling (three), Oscar Allen and Jamaine Jones (two each) also caused havoc for the Bulldogs’ defenders.
“It was a bit of a rollercoaster. We got jumped early and got beaten in the contest,” Eagles coach Adam Simpson said.
“We hung in there for the first half and challenged each other at halftime and thought we played more of the type of football we like to be proud of.”
Naitanui received medical treatment after copping a knock to his eye, while Allen was able to return to the ground despite having a sore shoulder.
The undefeated Bulldogs have five days to back up for a Good Friday clash with North Melbourne, while West Coast host ladder-leaders Port Adelaide at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.