From Sunday Herald Sun
Reported by Howard Leigh

THERE was a touch of irony about the comeback of Western Bulldogs champion Chris Grant in Werribee's shock victory over Geelong at Skilled Stadium yesterday.

In his 18th season of AFL football, Grant spent most of his 56 minutes of game time at full-back on 18-year-old Geelong boom recruit Tom Hawkins.

"Yeah, it was a bit ironic to line up on a young fellow who has got his whole future ahead of him," Grant said. "I felt old when I lined up on him."

It was Grant's first competitive match since having surgery three months ago to have pubic bone chips removed from his groin.

He wore a large adhesive protective pad on his left knee, a legacy of past surgery.

The former Bulldogs skipper finished with seven possessions, two marks and two tackles before spending the final quarter on the bench.

Grant, who has played a record 336 games with the Bulldogs, said he felt a little rusty.

"The plan was to play 50-odd minutes in the back line to find some touch and be able to read the play, and go back with the flight of the ball," he said.

"The plan is to play three quarters in next week's VFL game against Port Melbourne and then get back into the Bulldogs side.

"I was pleased to get through the game without any problems."

Werribee's potent forward line, led by Bulldog Matthew Robbins and skipper James Podsiadly, was the catalyst for the win over the ladder leaders.

Robbins booted 4.4 and Podsiadly 4.3 from 23 possessions and 10 marks in Werribee's 15-point victory, the club's fourth straight win.

Geelong coach Leigh Tudor bemoaned his side's inaccuracy, which saw them kick 11 consecutive points from half-time to the eight-minute mark of the final quarter when James Byrne broke the drought.

Chief offenders were Hawkins, who took eight contested marks and had 11 disposals but was off target with three points, and Charlie Gardiner, who booted 2.3.

In a turnaround, the Cats stormed home, booting seven goals without a miss in the final 21 minutes of the match, but it was too late.

Western Bulldogs players Will Minson, Cameron Faulkner and Jordan McMahon, and rookie Marty Pask were among the best Tigers.

Following a best-on-ground performance in the previous match against the Casey Scorpions, Minson had 24 effective hit-outs.

Faulkner had 23 touches and McMahon 20 coming off the half-back line.

Grant came on and off the interchange bench in the first three quarters before being spelled by Atkins in the final quarter.

Atkins said he was pleased with the team's commitment for three quarters but upset that they fell away when the Cats lifted their game.

"We took our foot off the pedal and we stopped executing our game plan," he said.

Atkins said Grant's presence at training on Friday night and before the game had been an enormous confidence boost.

"Chris is an outstanding person and he showed that in the way he trained with us before the game," he said.

Geelong took midfielder Josh Hunt off at half-time as he prepared to fly to Adelaide to act as an emergency for the Cats in today's AFL game against the Crows at AAMI stadium.

The Cats' best included Joel Selwood, who had 33 possessions despite being physically ill after a heavy knock.

"Bad kicking for goal cost us like it did against Box Hill two or three weeks ago," Tudor said.

"If we had kicked straight we might have pinched the game. Our midfield was not very accountable."