WITH two returning Taylors (Jack and Billy), the faithful were pleased to see Phillip Island’s three first-gamers from last week retained in the team, with a total of five players under 20.
Add this to the welcome return of the Bulldogs’ Marcus White for his first senior game since the 2019 grand final and all the stars were aligned.
A tight opening with the howling wind across the ground presented both teams with challenges in moving the ball cleanly. The Bulldogs opened the scoring, and quickly took control with Jordy Patullo and Harry O’Brien leading causing problems for the Stars.
Max Blake was back to his scary best, and Zak Vernon was in everything all around the ball. The Bulldogs pressed for a 30-point lead at the first break.
The second saw the Jordy Patullo show take centre stage. Taking marks in the stars, on the ground, and everywhere in between, Jordy booted five for the quarter in a Bulldog onslaught that saw 11 goals to zip, and a lead of 97 points at the big break.
With the wind reduced to a slight – at least by Garfield standards – breeze for the third, coach Vernon implored his charges to continue the pressure!
The Stars came out and displayed a similar intent and matched the Bulldogs for periods – the difference being finishing.
After five minutes of early domination by the Stars resulted in a lot of effort for little return, the Bulldogs were able to move forward cleanly where Billy Taylor gracefully slotted one.
Cam Pedersen decided that it was his time, and after handing off a couple, cleanly dispatched three in five minutes to break the Stars’ resistance. A total of nine for the third quarter, and a lead of 148 at three-quarter time.
With coach Vernon reminding the Bulldogs at three-quarter time that they had not won a final quarter for the year, the final started with a string of behinds. Brendan Kimber ‘stole’ a certain goal from the returning Marcus Wright – much to the amusement of the coaches bench.
Billy Taylor kicked one before the new full-forward Cam Pedersen kicked a string of additional goals. The Stars fought it out and kicked one themselves, but the Bulldogs were too strong, running out winners by 183!