Bontempelli stars, Dogs down Lions in AFL

Western Bulldogs superstar Marcus Bontempelli has struck late to consign Brisbane to a 14-point loss and their worst post-merger start to an AFL season.
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The Lions slashed the margin to eight points midway through Saturday night’s final term before Bontempelli slotted his fourth goal, killing Brisbane’s momentum and helping the Dogs to a hard-fought 16.11 (107) to 14.9 (93) victory.

Stand-in skipper Bontempelli also gathered 24 disposals while playing in the forward line for the majority of the game, while gun midfielder Jack Macrae continued his sensational start to the season with a career-best 47 touches.

“I thought our contest and our hardness around the footy was first-rate,” Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.

“I think we kicked 7.3 from forward-half turnovers, which we’re pretty happy with … it was nice to get some result there.”

The Bulldogs’ third-consecutive victory came at a cost, with rising star Aaron Naughton suffering an ankle injury during the first quarter.

The key defender left the ground in the arms of trainers and played no further part in the game after twisting his ankle in a contest with Lions forward Eric Hipwood.

Bottom-placed Brisbane will be left to regret another opportunity gone begging after single-digit losses to Collingwood, Gold Coast and Port Adelaide.

The Lions kept the margin within four goals throughout and were strong around the ball, helped by a brilliant performance from ruckman Stefan Martin (49 hitouts),

Dayne Zorko was tagged by Mitch Honeychurch but backed up his outstanding showing last week against Collingwood with 24 touches and four goals. Charlie Cameron finished with three goals and nine tackles.

Star recruit Cameron’s third goal had the surging Lions poised to snatch their first victory since beating Gold Coast in round 21 last season.

But Lewis Taylor’s errant handpass fell straight into the Bulldogs’ arms and Bontempelli was able to run into an open goal and consign the Lions to more late heartbreak.

“We’re a bit sick of it,” Brisbane coach Chris Fagan said of their narrow losses.

“When the whips are cracking, we’re still not quite good enough to get over the line.”

Turnovers out of defence proved costly for Brisbane throughout the game, while big-name Lions Dayne Beams (17 disposals) and Daniel Rich (15) were unable to break the game open.

Brisbane’s 0-8 record is their worst start to a season since 1991 when they lost their first nine games as the Bears, before merging with Fitzroy ahead of the 1997 season.

The Lions might be set for more pain as they look to avoid a repeat of last year’s wooden spoon with games against Hawthorn and Sydney to come.

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