Most Tatura supporters had pencilled in the match against bottom side Shepparton Swans as a regulation victory, particularly considering the return of captain Tom Miller and vice-captain Matt Ryan from long-term injuries.
However, the young Swans had other things on their mind as they systematically broke down the Bulldogs’ defence to take a 12-point victory at Princess Park on Saturday.
The Bulldogs never really got their game going as the Swans’ on-ball brigade in Tim Ewart, BJ Squire and Chris Cullinan controlled the game through the middle of the ground and provided their forwards with numerous inside 50 opportunities.
Their delivery of the footy was superior to that of the scratchy Bulldogs, who struggled to find a target all day.
While the contest between the two sides was close all day, it was the Bulldogs who made mistakes at critical parts of the game and turned the ball over to a spirited opposition.
The Swans sniffed an opportunity as the Bulldogs’ confidence took a battering, but at the last break the margin was still only three points.
It soon became obvious that the momentum was with the Swans as they lifted their intensity across the ground.
The Bulldogs’ backline was under extreme pressure and their occasional forward thrusts were thwarted by an enthusiastic defence.
In a game the Bulldogs would like to forget, it was veteran Linc Wellington who stood up with a performance reminiscent of his younger days.
Mitch Elliott continued his consistent form and Tim Lanyon tried hard all day, but there were not enough good performances to lift the Bulldogs to victory.
Finals scores were Shepparton Swans 10.11 (71) to Tatura 8.11 (59).
Best players for the Bulldogs were Linc Wellington, Mitch Elliott, Tim Lanyon, Colby McDonald, Rian McGough and Andrew Ciavarella.
The Bulldogs’ reserves team had a huge victory against a depleted Swans line up and have regained a spot in the top six.
Final scores: Tatura, 25.15 (165) to Shepparton Swans 3.2 (20).
Best players: Paul Mahoney, Shane Kay, Daniel Flynn, Jake Chessells, Angus Eaton and JJ O’Connell.
The Bulldogs’ under-18s continued on their winning ways with another strong victory over the Shepparton Swans and have entrenched themselves in the top six.
Final scores: Tatura 16.7 (103) to Swans 6.5 (41).
Best players: Ethan Moor, Jayden Armstrong, David Comi, Calum Minutoli, Mason Farley and Tyson Coonerty.