Brodie Grundy has had his way over Tim English in the past, but was overawed buy the addition of another Dogs big man.
Adam Treloar may have been traded by Collingwood in heartbreaking fashion last year, but has gotten the last laugh with a terrific win over his old teammates.
After being booed with his opening touch, Treloar received a warmer reception in the final quarter when he was applauded by the Magpie Army as the Bulldogs ran out 10. 9. (69) to 7. 11. (53) winners at the MCG.
While the addition of Treloar grabbed the headlines during the off-season, it was an unheralded Bulldogs recruit who made a massive difference in the middle.
Veteran big man Stefan Martin was brought over to assist the Bulldogs’ young ruckman Tim English, and after English was monstered by Collingwood star Brodie Grundy last year, Martin proved to be the difference.
The usually prolific Grundy was worn down by the Bulldogs’ two-man tandem, finishing with just 11 possessions to go with his 39 hitouts, while Martin and English tallied 29 disposals and two goals between them.
Following the Bulldogs’ win, Kangaroos premiership-winning great David King put the heat on Grundy, who is in the first year of a bumper seven-year contract.
“If you’re going to pay someone a million dollars a year, they’ve got to be the difference in the game. You can’t be in question,” King told Fox Footy.
“He was beaten tonight and you can get beaten game-to-game, but this is on watch now. Tonight they were humbled and I think it starts at the coalface.
“You’ve got to challenge your best players to make a difference and Brodie Grundy, that salary cap squeeze we spoke about last year, it’s largely because of contracts like that.
“If you’re going to be a senior player demanding that sort of coin then you’ve got to be the difference. You’ve got to be a marquee player if you’re going to get marquee money.”
King added that Grundy had been bothered by the physical frame of the 34-year-old Martin, saying the difference in the big man’s impact on the game was “laughable”.
“One recruit can make a massive difference,” he said.
“Brodie Grundy had his way with Tim English last year, he’s had his way with Tim English the last three games, with nine Brownlow votes, not tonight.
“The big frame of Martin, he doesn’t look as big as some, but he’s super strong. He’s a wiry type and these guys at ground level went to work.”
Following the win, English, who finished with 14 disposals and a goal, admitted that it was good to get one up on Grundy.
“I was pumped for tonight. The good thing about footy is you get another opportunity,” he said.
“I’ve always been exposed a little bit by Grundy in the past, so to have Stef come into the team and play that ruck role or ruck-forward role and I can chop out really well and it’s seamless.
“The kind of person Stef is, he just wants to make everyone better around him. I’m loving working with him and I’m excited for what we can bring throughout the year.”
With the Grundy dominance negated in the air, the Bulldogs’ all-star midfield was able to run riot at ground level.
Ten individual players tallied over 10 contested possessions compared to just one for Collingwood, as young gun Bailey Smith finished with 36 disposals and two goals.
Smith was one of four Bulldogs to collect 30 disposals or more, with Jack Macrae, Lachie Hunter and Josh Dunkley rounding out the quartet.
Collingwood now faces a six-day turnaround before a must-win clash against Carlton at the MCG next Thursday night, while the Bulldogs host the West Coast Eagles at Marvel Stadium next Sunday.