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Inspired Bulldogs down Cats in nailbiter

Geelong veteran Harry Taylor has missed a goal after the siren in his AFL return to hand the Western Bulldogs a pulsating two-point win at Etihad Stadium.

The Cats threatened to snatch victory on Friday night when Taylor, playing his first game since round nine, marked strongly and lined up for goal from 25m out on a flank.

But Taylor's shot went wide and the Bulldogs snapped a five-game losing streak with a 16.7 (103) to 15.11 (101) triumph in front of 29,499 fans.

The Dogs lost late inclusion Lin Jong to a broken collarbone in the opening minutes and dealt with injuries all night but stood up magnificently to secure their biggest win of the season.

Rising star Ed Richards (three goals) inspired his side in the final term, booting two late majors to bring the Dogs back from a two-point deficit at three-quarter time.

Skipper Marcus Bontempelli (24 disposals, two goals) was also influential late while Luke Dahlhaus (29 touches) starred in the midfield.

"Just huge contributions across the board ... that's what got us the win," Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.

"Just to hang in there and give ourselves a chance again, it was terrific perseverance from the boys."

Gary Ablett (30 disposals, one goal) gave the Cats hope of a last-ditch victory when he roved a forward stoppage and kicked truly from a tight angle with 30 seconds remaining.

But the Cats were denied a valuable chance to climb into the AFL's top four when Taylor sprayed his shot.

"I didn't watch it," Geelong coach Chris Scott said of the Taylor kick.

"We've been in enough situations like that, I can't watch. I just wait for the crowd reaction."

The lead changed hands almost a dozen times in a highly-entertaining clash.

Injuries have been the story of the season for the Bulldogs and it was the case again when Matt Suckling succumbed to Achilles soreness during the warm-up.

Jong replaced Suckling but made it just halfway through the first quarter before suffering a broken right collarbone - the same injury he sustained in the lead-up to the 2016 grand final - in a fierce tackle from Sam Menegola.

Jong's head slammed into the turf in a tackle reminiscent of West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui's challenge on Karl Amon which controversially resulted in a one-game suspension.

Bulldogs forward Billy Gowers was on and off the ground after hurting his ankle in a marking contest, backman Hayden Crozier spent time in the rooms with a leg injury and Dahlhaus was busted open in a collision with Joel Selwood.

The Dogs briefly went down to one man on the bench but they surged to a game-high 24-point lead early in the third term and never looked back.

Ablett, Tom Hawkins (three goals) and Dangerfield (31 disposals, one goal) were the Cats' best while debutant Quinten Narkle booted two majors.