Last year’s No.1 draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Marcus Bontempelli starred to help the Western Bulldogs entrench themselves in the AFL top four with an 11-point win over a stubborn Gold Coast.

The Suns battled bravely against their more fancied opponents but the go-forward of Ugle-Hagan (three goals) and class of Bontempelli (36 disposals) told as the visitors scored a 14.6 (90) to 11.13 (79) victory in front of 8244 fans at Metricon Stadium.

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge praised Ugle-Hagan’s efforts on Saturday, and, despite not scoring a goal, in a losing effort against Sydney last week.

“When you can imagine what he’s been through over however many months from the start of last year through until now, all the publicity that’s been on his doorstep and the interrupted preparation …,” Beveridge said.

“Off the back of a really good experience for him, even though we dropped the game, just to go out (on Saturday) and get a sense of what AFL footy is like, for him to come out and have some critical moments.

“His game was quite instrumental in us having a margin at the end.”

A typically combative performance from Touk Miller (38 disposals) and three goals each to Ben Ainsworth, Alex Sexton and Nick Holman kept the Suns in striking distance for most of the match, while Brayden Fiorini (32 disposals) and Jeremy Sharp (30 disposals) also impressed.

Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew said despite the loss, he was pleased with the effort of his team to stick close to quality opposition.

“Sliding doors stuff; it’s a fine line between win-loss,” Dew said.

“Execution we can keep training, effort and intent we thought was outstanding by and large for most of the night.”

Bailey Smith (33 disposals), Jackson Macrae (31) and Bailey Dale (30) all provided plenty of drive to back up the hard-running efforts of their captain Bontempelli.

The Suns jumped the Western Bulldogs early, scoring the first three goals of the game to race out to a five-point quarter-time lead, despite the visitors dominating centre clearances (5-1) and inside 50s (17-10).

Holman was a surprise avenue to goal for the Suns with three majors in the opening term, but the Bulldogs were able to keep in touch thanks to Ugle-Hagan’s debut AFL goal from a set shot 45m out on a tight angle.

Ugle-Hagan opened the scoring in the second quarter to start a four-goal run for the visitors and from there the Western Bulldogs took the ascendancy, with Bontempelli leading the way with 13 disposals for the quarter.

Gold Coast arrested the Bulldogs’ charge through goals to Ainsworth and Sexton, but the visitors looked comfortable as they jumped out to an 11-point halftime lead.

The Suns stayed within striking distance for most of the second half with Miller and Sexton leading the charge, but the class of the Bulldogs kept them in front for the win.

Western Bulldog Josh Dunkley (21 disposals) was solid in his first match since round six after a shoulder reconstruction.

Gold Coast face another top-four team in Melbourne next week, while the Western Bulldogs take on Adelaide.

Bontempelli, Ugle-Hagan shine in Dogs’ win
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