GOLDEN Square held Sandhurst to just one behind at the Barnard Street end of the Queen Elizabeth Oval across the second and fourth quarters on Saturday to end a string of six losses in a row against the Dragons.
The Bulldogs moved into top spot on the BFNL ladder with their 27-point victory – 11.14 (80) to 8.5 (53).
Of the eight goals the Dragons kicked, they booted six in the third quarter when they rallied from 19 points down at half-time to take a four-point advantage – and the momentum – into the final term.
However, the Bulldogs weathered the surge from the Dragons, controlling the final term from the moment Adam Baird ran onto a kind bounce and into an open goal to give Golden Square back the lead for good.
The Bulldogs finished with 4.7 to no score in the last quarter as they extended their winning streak to eight in a row and beat the Dragons for the first time since the qualifying final of 2015.
While the win moved the Bulldogs to 10-2 and top of the ladder, the reigning premier Dragons – who opened the season $1.55 flag favourites with Sportsbet – are now outside the top five after 12 rounds.
The star for the Bulldogs was again key forward Travis Baird, who continued his career-best form to be one of the key differences between the two sides.
Baird bagged six goals, with his haul coming on the back of returns of six, eight and five in his previous three games.
His first five goals came from marks, while his sixth from a snap broke the game wide open as it put the Bulldogs 22 points up at the 14-minute mark of the last term.
It was the final goal of the game, with the Bulldogs’ final five scores all behinds.
Baird should have kicked seven, but hit the post 25m out straight in front early in the final term.
It was a breakout game for Sandhurst’s Oscar McKinley, who kicked three goals, including the first two of the third quarter to kickstart the Dragons’ charge, while he also provided the highlight of the match with his brilliant soaring mark over the top of Jon Coe in the third term.
On what was a perfect day for football, just seven goals were kicked in the first half – Square led 5.5 to 2.4 – as the defences of both sides were on top, stoppages were constant and the ball regularly sailed out on the full on the swimming pool wing.
The Dragons didn’t help their cause in the second term when Zac East (twice) and Lee Coghlan sprayed shots at goal out on the full.