Naughton concussed, Dogs top of AFL ladder

·3-min read

Aaron Naughton was substituted out with concussion as the Western Bulldogs climbed to the top of the AFL ladder with a hard-fought 29-point win over North Melbourne.

The Bulldogs' cleaner ball use and efficiency going forward was the difference in the 16.12 (108) to 11.13 (79) victory at Marvel Stadium on Sunday, with Jack Macrae and Tom Liberatore key to the result.

A third straight win saw the Dogs leapfrog Melbourne - who were upset by GWS on Saturday - into top spot ahead of a meeting with red-hot Sydney in round 17.

But it came at a cost as key forward Naughton was taken out of a match at half-time for the second time in three weeks.

Naughton was searching for a big mark moments before the main break when he threw himself into a pack and landed heavily.

He lay almost motionless for about a minute before being helped to his feet and hobbling off the ground.

"Naughts has just come down and our guys called it early, so we knew that we needed to look after him," Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.

Emerging star Cody Weightman excited Bulldogs fans playing deep in attack and had a first quarter to remember.

The 20-year-old made use of the space afforded to him by Naughton and Josh Bruce to kick three of the Dogs' first four goals.

He finished with four as Mitch Wallis, who was a late inclusion for Ed Richards (ill), bobbed up with three in the final term.

Liberatore, Bruce and Bailey Dale kicked two goals each.

Macrae continued his streak of having at least 30 disposals in every game this season, gathering 31 and seven clearances.

"It was an important win for us but I think we just did enough," Beveridge said.

"The quality of our forward-50 entries was pretty good ... and we just put enough pressure on.

"North won all the key areas that we pride ourselves on - they won the clearances and their contested footy was very good - but the desire from our blokes is still there."

North Melbourne were embarrassed by the Bulldogs in round three to the tune of 128 points but showed signs of their development since that Good Friday humiliation in a far more competitive performance.

It continued an improved run of form in four matches since the bye.

Cam Zurhaar kicked four goals and pulled down a superb one-handed mark in attack during the final term.

Ben Cunnington (26 disposals and nine clearances) and ruckman Todd Goldstein were also among the Kangaroos' best and kicked two goals each.

Emerging youngsters Tarryn Thomas (24 disposals and eight clearances) and Luke Davies-Uniacke 18 and seven) also impressed.

"We're building belief," Kangaroos coach David Noble said.

"We want to be a team that's hard to play against and we probably left our run a little bit too late ... (but) our guys stuck to the task really well and gave it a real crack in that last quarter."

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