The Dragons have moved their season record to 6-4, defeating the GWV Rebels 13.7.85 to 10.8.68 at Mars Stadium in Round 12.
It was the last game of the month-long road trip for the Dragons, with games at Williamstown and Morwell leading up to Ballarat.
For many of the boys, it was the first time playing at Mars Stadium, a venue that has hosted many AFL games over the years, most recently Round 10, 2022.
The Dragons certainly embraced the opportunity and ran out 17-point winners against the Rebels in a comfortable Sunday afternoon win.
It was an ideal start for the Dragons who got the ball rolling with a spectacular outside 50 bomb from Creighton (2 goals, 16 disposals), which sailed over the last defender’s head and through for our first major.
Not long after, Lloyd (2 goals) was effective at the drop of the ball, crumbing Rousakis’ drop mark to snap the Dragons second in four minutes.
One minute later, Hope (3 goals, 18 disposals) got himself into a strong position to convert the set shot from 25 metres out, giving the Dragons an 18-0 start within five minutes.
The Rebels fought back in the next ten minutes, creating a tougher contested game that stemmed the flow of Dragons goals.
The Rebels kicked two back to reduce the margin to seven points, however, a late goal to Carroll ( 1 goal, 5 tackles) on his debut gave the Dragons a two-goal buffer heading into the first break.
Another quick start, two minutes into the second quarter extended the margin back out to 14 points, off the back of a smart centring kick from McMullin (13 disposals, 3 i50s), who found Birks open 20 metres out.
The Rebels didn’t repeat first quarter history and found a way back in sooner rather than later, kicking a goal back two minutes after.
Eight points was the smallest margin between the two sides as the Dragons put the foot on the pedal and started to extend the lead throughout the quarter.
After a few late errors in the first quarter, Rousakis bounced back terrifically in the second, kicking two goals in two minutes, both from great crumbing in and around goals.
Creighton was instrumental in holding his line throughout the game and was rewarded, taking an intercept mark on 50 metres, also given a 50-metre penalty, guaranteeing his second of the game, an unusual stat for the defender.
Heading into the third quarter 25 points up, the Dragons were looking to close out the game in the third quarter.
The first five minutes of the quarter were battled out in the middle of the ground, with either side able to gain momentum.
The Rebels found a breakthrough in the sixth minute, finding the big sticks from a long-range kick from outside 50.
With the margin down to three goals, the pressure was back on the Dragons to attain the pressure and dominance they had sustained in the first half.
Fourteen minutes into the third the Dragons were able to convert in front of goals after a couple of behinds, with Clarkson (25 disposals, 8 rebound 50s) showcasing his versatility off the half-back line, who started the chain to Birks and Hope.
Lloyd won a high tackle free-kick 30 metres out directly in front and converted without a problem, extending the lead to 31 points.
The Rebels kicked one late in the third term, keeping the game interesting with one more quarter.
A bad error by two Dragons in the middle of the ground who collided with each other gave the Rebels their first sniff at goal in the fourth quarter, which reduced the margin to 19 with 20 minutes to play.
Whilst tension was seemingly gathering from the sideline, the Dragons composed under intense GWV pressure, and Krok got an opportunity for a debut goal, which he slotted, taking the lead back out to 25 points.
McCluskey put the game to bed with ten minutes to go, kicking a set shot from 30 metres out, extending the lead to 30 points.
Some late goals for the Rebels reduced the margin to 17 points, in the end, the Dragons were too strong for the Rebels.
The Ben and Vigo Show
Since the loss of Max Ramsden to the mid-season draft, Ben Andrews has stood up immensely, improving week by week to establish himself as a tough opponent to face up against.
With co-ruckman Jake Johnson out, Vigo Visentini took his opportunity to make an impact, teaming up with Andrews around the stoppages and in the centre.
Andrews had 32 hitouts and Visentini 26. The two combined for 58 hitouts, whilst GWV had only 19, complete domination in the ruck battle.
Matt Clarkson has been in and out of the side this year, however, has made a big impact throughout most of his time in the side.
His 25 disposals on the afternoon topped the side, with his impressive run and carry off half-back creating a variety of linking passages along the outsides and through the middle.
Clarkson topped the side for rebound 50s with eight on the afternoon, continuing his strong run of form in the side.
Road Trip Complete
It was a tough four weeks for the Dragons, heading to Williamstown, Morwell in Ballarat, a difficult task for most the of boys who don’t usually play outside of the local region.
Wins in Williamstown and Ballarat have been crucial for the Dragons, who are looking to contend for a top 3 automatic finals spot.
The Dragons play every second week for the last three rounds, playing Geelong at RSEA, Eastern at Box Hill, and Oakleigh at RSEA.