Western-Bulldogs

This season boasted a plethora of good matches, but there is one game that stands above the rest.

However, before getting to the match of the year, it’s worth going through a few of the contenders.

The elimination final between the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide was arguably the most entertaining footy we saw all year.

The game was fast-paced from start to finish with frequent scoring and a lot of emphasis placed on counterattacking from half back, which made the game flow at a pace that would’ve pushed the endurance of every player on the ground.

This game ticked almost every box as a match of the year candidate with its high-scoring, consistently close footy, high skill level, exciting players and a lot at stake.

Another match of the year candidate was the round two clash between Hawthorn and Essendon where the Bombers triumphed by two points, literally at the last moment.

After Cale Hooker put Essendon in front, Hawk Luke Breust roved a pack, ran in and kicked a goal only to be denied by the siren sounding as he was dropping the ball onto his foot.

Essendon controlled much of the game before the Hawks surged, snatching the lead early in the fourth quarter.

While not a prototypical match of the year candidate, the final few seconds of the game will be replayed for years to come and it will see it become one of the more memorable matches of 2015.

Finally, the Western Bulldogs travelled north to Sydney to take on the Swans in round five in the most Sydney-esque conditions imaginable.

The ground was muddy and rain threatened to derail the Bulldogs’ high-paced football, but this was the game where the Dogs proved they were going to be a legitimate contender in 2015.

The Bulldogs led for most of the game, never breaking away from the home side, leaving punters awaiting the inevitable Swans comeback.

It came in the fourth quarter with the Swans taking and holding the lead for a while before the Bulldogs, clearly exhausted, pushed back to claim a character building four-point victory.

There may be other games that surpassed the above three games and a case could be made for a lot of games as to why they deserve to be on this list, but the match of the year itself is hard to argue against.

During round 14, tragedy struck Adelaide with the murder of coach Phil Walsh, leading to the cancellation of their scheduled match with Geelong.

Two rounds later came the Showdown which has a well-known reputation for being an antagonistic battle for pride between two sides fighting for supremacy in their hometown, but tragedy transcended the bitterness.

Instead, we were witness to a game played in a spirit Walsh would have been proud of.

Many matches this year would be ahead of it in terms of quality, but the underlying story of the match got it over the line.

The Crows held the lead for most of the day, coming off the back of a called off game and a loss to the West Coast Eagles, they would lead by nearly eight goals at stages throughout the day.

However, Port Adelaide came home strong, perhaps with extra wind in their sails and given everything Adelaide had been through, if they had been pushed aside, a fair case could be mounted for the loss.

Port never took the lead, pushing closer with every passing second, but not doing quite enough to get past the Crows who held on with everything they had.

While the Port heavy crowd was ultimately disappointed, it was a fitting result and a great tribute to the coach that meant so much to them.

It may not have been the best spectacle of 2015, but it was certainly the best match of the year.