The Western Bulldogs lost some of their bite after a persistent Port Adelaide was too powerful at Mars Stadium.
In difficult and slippery conditions, Port scored 11-12-78 to the Doggies’ 5-4-34 in front of 6450 die-hard fans who braved one of Ballarat’s coldest winter days.
Sunday’s match was the third time the Western Bulldogs have hosted a match for premiership points in Ballarat, and the first to be broadcast live although the AFL was forced to bring in temporary lighting to brighten the broadcast.
When the two clubs met in August last year at Mars Stadium’s first AFL match, more than 10,000 people flocked to the stadium and the Bulldogs Clash against the Gold Coast suns in May drew 6833 fans.
The Bulldogs got off to a dream start with a goal from Mitch Wallis just 50 seconds after the first bounce but Power found their feet in the slippery conditions and answered shortly after.
Although the rain largely stayed away after the first bounce, the temperature plummeted and both teams had microwaves on their interchange benches to warm up heat backs for players on the bench.
Ballarat AFL export and Bulldogs ruckman Jordan Roughead received a knock to the head during the game and came off the field to be tested for concussion.
Wet weather dulls Mars crowd’s club colours
The crowd at an AFL match is usually a riot of club colours but at Mars Stadium it was white plastic ponchos that dominated the crowd as they vainly attempted to stay dry before the game.
Hints of red, white and blue through the ponchos were more prevalent than white, silver and teal but a healthy contingent of local and visiting Port Adelaide fans held their own against the Bulldog contingent.
But the rain held off for most of the first half, even though at the first bounce at 3.20pm the temperature felt like a bone-chilling -2.2C, but even that was better than when fans were arriving an hour earlier during a rain and hail storm that dropped the feels-like temperature to -2.8C.
It was about then that bulldogs mascot and Ross Creek resident Caesar was taking to the field with his owners Tanya and Chris Templeton to greet fans.
“It’s fantastic to be part of a home game here in Ballarat,” Ms Templeton said. “It’s just a pity about the weather.”
When it was apparent the rain would hold off the tribal colours reappeared as the ponchos were peeled off. Even the crowd on the waterlogged hill swelled in the weak winter sun.
Giveaways on the day were prized, with Bulldogs members grabbing hundreds of free blankets and members of the public taking advantage of free handwarmers.