Bulldogs grind out victory over Eagles

Justin FrisSouth Western Times
Bunbury recruit Jeffrey Meekin scans his eyes downfield during Sunday’s victory over Collie Eagles.
Camera IconBunbury recruit Jeffrey Meekin scans his eyes downfield during Sunday’s victory over Collie Eagles. Credit: Justin Fris

Bunbury withstood a fierce resistance from the Collie Eagles to record a grinding 16-point win on Sunday at a blustery Payne Park.

But for all of the visitors’ endeavour across the afternoon, they were ultimately brought undone by two priceless variables in football – class and experience.

Twice when the home side had its margin trimmed to a goal during the second half, tireless Bulldogs ball magnet Jesse Gribble responded instantly with telling goals to regain momentum for his side.

The other man to stifle the visitors’ creativity was veteran Brett Peake – with all three of his goals coming at moments in the game when the Bulldogs needed a lift.

With the blustery and wet conditions circling Payne Park for the majority of the afternoon, the Eagles sensed an opportunity to push their case for victory against the hosts early.

There was no shortage of hard contested football as both sides threw themselves into the fray.

The Bulldogs led by 30 points at the 10 minute mark of the third term and appeared to be in control, but it became evident the Eagles had read a different script.

Taking the game on, the visitors booted four goals in 10 minutes to get within six points midway during red time.

Within a minute, Gribble replied with a steadying goal for the home side, who managed to keep the tenacious visitors at bay for the remainder of the game.

Post-game, Bulldogs coach Jamie Nani was happy with how his men responded when challenged throughout the second half.

“The conditions were tough and the breeze was swirling around,” he said. “But I thought early that we dominated them.

“And in that third quarter they kicked three late goals – probably from our turnovers – and got their tails up.”

Nani also praised Gribble’s influence on the game, with the Bulldogs boss especially pleased with his third quarter goal.

“He’s run from the middle of the ground and ended up getting the ball 15m out from goal with his hard work rate,” he said. “And then kicking that goal from 40m on an angle in the last quarter at another time when it was crucial.”

Eagles coach Seth White was proud of his side despite the defeat.

“It’s important that we aren’t accepting losing,” he said.

“We were really good today – in fact the last three weeks have been really good against quality opposition – and early in the fourth quarter we were in a position to win the game, but we just couldn’t quite get it done in the end.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails