Key trade period recruit Josh Bruce has produced his best performance yet for the Western Bulldogs with a bag of six goals in a dominant 49-point win over North Melbourne on Saturday night.
The ex-St Kilda forward covered the loss of injured teammate Aaron Naughton with a superb display as he and fellow tall target Josh Schache combined for eight majors in the 13.9 (87) to 5.8 (38) victory at Marvel Stadium.
The result moved the Dogs to a 3-2 record but came at a cost as Bailey Smith and Laitham Vandermeer (both concussion) failed to complete the match.
The Dogs have now held their opponents to fewer than 40 points in three straight wins over GWS, Sydney and the Kangaroos.
"After a pretty inauspicious start to the season, the last three weeks have been encouraging," Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.
Luke McDonald kept Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli relatively quiet but the Dogs had far more contributors through the midfield as Tom Liberatore (23 disposals), Toby McLean (22), Jack Macrae (24) and Caleb Daniel (22) racked up touches at will.
McLean blunted the dangerous Shaun Higgins and Tim English (22 disposals) was influential around the ground and competitive in the ruck against Todd Goldstein.
The emerging star also provided the highlight of the night with a huge pack mark during the third term.
Former skipper Easton Wood played well in defence in his first match back from a quadriceps injury.
Bruce kicked more goals in the first half (three) than he had totalled in four previous games with the Bulldogs this season since his trade period move.
He added another three after the main break and set up one for Schache, who finished with two.
"We feel like (Bruce) has been working really hard and competing his tail off, and tonight he really got the rewards," Beveridge said.
"When he had a look at it and a jump at it he was so strong, and he obviously converted.
"He got the spoils for the foundations that he's laid."
Smith was accidentally concussed in a crunching tackle from Shaun Atley that left the Bulldogs a man down before quarter-time and Lin Jong also struggled with an ankle injury.
Emerging Kangaroos star Tarryn Thomas was also concussed when he took a heavy fall after flying for a huge pack mark before halftime and sat out the second half.
Despite being held to just two goals in the first half, North closed the margin to 13 points when Curtis Taylor kicked the opening major of the third term.
But the Dogs responded with four goals in a seven-minute blitz to break the game wide open and kicked eight of the last 10 goals of the game.
Tough North midfielder Ben Cunnington returned from a back injury but copped an early knock and finished the game on the bench.
Australian Associated Press