Western Bulldogs young gun Jamarra Ugle-Hagan has earned rave reviews for his physical play in his team’s hard-fought win over the Sydney Swans.
The Bulldogs were wasteful all night, but held off several Swans runs in the second half to finish 9. 17. (71) to 9. 6. (60) winners at Marvel Stadium.
Coming into the match with an unenviable 0-2 record, it was virtually a must-win match-up for Luke Beveridge‘s men and Ugle-Hagan had his fingerprints on the game from the outset, kicking his side’s first goal of the match.
While the 19-year-old’s statistics for the match – seven disposals, two marks, one goal and four tackles – don’t jump off the stat sheet, his ground ball pressure along with Dogs’ other forwards, helped the team win the Inside 50 count 59-49.
Following his side’s 11-point win, Ugle-Hagan, who was drafted for his high-flying potential, admitted he’d been working on his ground ball skills.
“Obviously I’ve worked on that heaps in the off-season. That’s what probably isn’t a part of my game,” he told Seven.
Ugle-Hagan’s toughness, particularly in the final minute of the match, where his marking contest against Dane Rampe led to Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli kicking the sealer.
“I had a question about his toughness, because he is just a kid and still learning how to play the game, but this is what I love to see,” Geelong premiership star Cameron Mooney said on Fox Footy’s coverage.
“Tonight he did a couple of examples where I thought, ‘You know what? The kid’s tough’.”
It was something that did not go unnoticed by Ugle-Hagan’s teammates either.
“I spoke to Josh Dunkley post-game, and that was the first thing he mentioned, ‘Did you see Jamarra in that last-minute?’,” St Kilda great Nick Dal Santo said.
“For them to identify it out there, we always hear about how you’ve just got to play your role and compete, that’s what it looks like.
“That is the cornerstone of any key forward’s game. That was exceptional.”
“I thought he worked hard,” Kangaroos premiership star David King added.
“I mean, seven disposals, 1.2, if you just looked at the stats you’d say it’s not really contributing too much, but there were a couple (of) efforts without the football, and in the end, these were the moments that probably won them the game.
“It’s not a massive play, it’s not bone-shattering by any stretch, but it just shows the team. It’s an investment in winning. I thought they took some steps tonight.”
Ugle-Hagan was not the only Bulldogs player with a coming-of-age performance, with ruckman Tim English playing one of the best games of his career.
English finished the match with 24 disposals, eight marks, five tackles and 28 hitouts in a dominant showing against Sydney’s Tom Hickey, who was subbed off in the second half with a knee injury.
Small forward Cody Weightman was also excellent with three goals, while Josh Dunkley finished with 31 disposals and 11 tackles. Under-fire winger Lachie Hunter also enjoyed his best game of the season, finishing with 28 disposals.
Coming off a six-day break following a round two win over Geelong, some Swans players had quiet outings.
A week after the euphoric scenes which followed his 1000th career goal, Lance Franklin was well held by Bulldogs defender Ryan Gardner and managed just two goals.
The Swans will head back home to host the Kangaroos in round four, while the Bulldogs head to the MCG for a blockbuster clash against Richmond.