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Bugging Bulldogs pays off as Demons get off the chain

Football

It wasn't quite the "respectful and humble" attitude Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin wants from his side but Tomas Bugg's social media taunt of Jason Johannisen paid off in the end.

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The Demons forward raised eyebrows with an Instagram post directed at the Western Bulldogs speedster before the two sides faced off at Etihad Stadium yesterday.

Johannisen, last year’s Norm Smith medallist, had struggled under a hard tag during the Dogs’ loss to Sydney, and Bugg’s post – a selfie with teammate Jack Watts and the caption “you ready, Jason Johannisen?” – made it clear he could expect similar treatment again.

The sledge clearly didn’t go unnoticed, with Dogs centre half-back Easton Wood making a beeline for Bugg before the opening bounce.

It set the tone for what proved to be a spiteful contest, but it was one of the few shots the Bulldogs fired as the physical Dees stamped their premiership credentials with a 57-point thrashing.

Bugg ended up having little to do with Johannisen, who was tagged by Jake Melksham and finished with just 15 disposals.

But his ability to get under his opponent’s skin was clear to see when he provoked a frustrated Wood into giving away a free-kick and an easy goal while celebrating an earlier Demons major.

It is unusual in the AFL for players to use social media as a way of playing mind games with opponents, and both coaches admitted Bugg’s post had taken them by surprise.

“It’s probably a bit surprising that he’d do it but he has the last laugh, doesn’t he?,” Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.

Tomas Bugg (right, with Jake Melksham) having the last laugh after the Demons’ win. Photo: Julian Smith / AAP

Demons coach Goodwin – a self-confessed social media neophyte – said he hoped players would use the platform in the right way.

“From speaking to Tom and Jack, they know Jason. It was a bit of banter from their part,” he said.

“I think it’s really important to establish that we want to be a club that’s respectful and humble in the way we go about our business.

“That’s the discussions that we’ve had with our playing group.”

-AAP

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