Bulldogs cruise past Crows for fifth straight AFL win
The Western Bulldogs have thrashed an undermanned Adelaide by 45 points in Ballarat to snare a fifth straight win as they surge towards the AFL top four.
But the victory has come at a cost with Jason Johannisen facing a stint on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Johannisen will have scans but coach Luke Beveridge said the Bulldogs' medical staff believed the injury was on the "more serious" side.
The Bulldogs got out to an early lead and, despite their inaccuracy, kept the Crows at bay before kicking away for a 11.19 (85) to 5.10 (40) victory in front of 10,114 fans at Mars Stadium.
Beveridge's charges (7-3) are only outside the top four on percentage amid their best run since starting 2021 with six consecutive wins, while Adelaide (5-5) sit eighth.
The Bulldogs were beaten at clearance 50-39 but otherwise smashed the Crows around the ball.
"Obviously the negative was JJ with his injury and we probably just left a bit of score out there ... but it's a good day for us and we march on," Beveridge told reporters.
"Our contest in open space was as good as it's been - our commitment to loose balls and our willingness to put our bodies on the line and collide if need be, within the rules, I thought was really outstanding.
"To have such an important win and maybe even with the margin that it was in the end, it was a good sign for us considering we got beaten quite badly, even, with centre bounce clearance."
Skipper Marcus Bontempelli looked proppy after having his left knee assessed in the third quarter but played out the game.
"It appears as though there's nothing structural," Beveridge said.
"He's copped a knock and he's a little bit sore, but there's no significant concerns."
Bailey Smith racked up possessions at will to finish with 37 disposals, while Jack Macrae (two goals, 25 touches), Bailey Dale (36), Tom Liberatore, Caleb Daniel and Bontempelli (29 and a goal) had plenty of the ball.
Adelaide star Rory Laird (35 disposals, 11 clearances) was busy as the Crows, without forwards Taylor Walker and Riley Thilthorpe and defender Tom Doedee, failed to get going.
Livewire Izak Rankine was reported in the third quarter for front-on contact on Bulldogs defender Taylor Duryea, who kept him quiet.
The Bulldogs conceded the game's opening goal but booted the next four to seize control.
Adelaide's Mitch Hinge was helped off the ground early after falling heavily when making a gutsy spoil and was substituted for Sam Berry.
He will enter concussion protocols.
The Bulldogs' poor goal kicking kept Adelaide in the game in the first half, but the four-goals-to-one third quarter proved enough to put the game to bed.
"The contest is where the game was won and lost and we were found wanting in that area," Crows coach Matthew Nicks told reporters.
"This was a big step backwards for us.
"This one stung a bit ... that was maybe the uppercut that we needed."