AFL: Western Bulldogs trounce North Melbourne with 29 pts

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 02: Josh Bruce of the Bulldogs celebrates kicking a goal during the round 3 AFL match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on April 02, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images via AFL Photos)

North Melbourne have surged to the top of the AFL ladder after outclassing a spirited North Melbourne by 29 points.

After Melbourne’s surprise loss to Greater Western Sydney on Saturday, the Bulldogs only needed to win to regain top spot, and they withstood a Kangaroos fight back early in the final term at Marvel Stadium on Sunday evening.

North Melbourne again showed their improved form from recent weeks that saw them beat Gold Coast and draw with GWS, but were unable to convert several quality chances in the last quarter.

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The Roos had 12 scoring shots in the final term but could only manage four goals and eight behinds and couldn’t close the margin on a classy Dogs outfit.

The Bulldogs were more clinical with their forward 50 entries, highlighted by livewire forward Cody Weightman who starred with a four-goal haul, while North Melbourne also squandered several opportunities in front of goal in the third quarter.

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The win propelled the Dogs to 12-3, their best record at this point of the season since 2008, as they continue to charge towards September.

North Melbourne were competitive across the ground most of the day and had the better of the centre clearances through Todd Goldstein who asserted his dominance in the ruck battle.

But they were unable to capitalise with the lack of a dominant forward target and poor entries meaning they couldn’t turn it into scores.

Bulldogs fans will be sweating on the fitness of high flying forward Aaron Naughton who will miss at least the next week with concussion after landing heavily in a marking contest.

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The Bulldogs showed none of their recent goal kicking woes with four straight goals from set shots to start the game.

The Dogs had scored more behinds than majors in their previous four outings, but turned it around on Sunday evening, kicking 16 goals and 12 behinds.

The Roos came out firing in the first term with plenty of aggression and intensity, nailing three opening quarter goals of their own.

But as the Bulldogs settled into the game, they opened up North Melbourne with plenty of run and carry through the centre of the ground and were able transition from half back deep into their forward 50 with ease.