Despite the evening game, the temperature hovered around 27 degrees. The hot NT conditions raised many challenges for the two teams.
Firstly, preparation for the game required months of planning, with the Bulldogs using heat tents to simulate the hot humid conditions. Players would exercise on stationary bikes in these tents to acclimatize to the conditions they faced on the day. Part of this preparation required a detailed analysis of fluid loss by players. The players would be weighed before and after their sessions in the heat tent to better understand how each player handled the conditions. As a result, players would know how much fluid they would expect to lose, and therefore take in the appropriate sports drinks to counter this.
Secondly, before and during the game, players used various techniques to keep their core temperature down. Some methods used included the use of vests with large pockets packed with ice. Recent research has also suggested that the most effective way to keep cool before, during or after exercise is through ingestion of cool fluids. Cold drinks or even "slurpess" cool core body temperature faster and prevent the players experiencing a heat load.
Thirdly, to prevent their players' exposure to the hot conditions, the Bulldogs made full use of their interchange bench making an AFL record 153 interchange moves. Swapping players allowed them to recover and re-hydrate before returning refreshed.
All these moves helped the Bulldogs lift in the third and fourth quarter. The Dogs' victory moves them into the top five on the AFL Premership ladder. They take on a strong Fremantle at Etihad Stadium this Sunday night. Port Adelaide faces a hometown showdown with form team Adelaide, also next Sunday. The Bulldogs-Port game in Darwin has had a big impact on the ladder and sets the Bulldogs up for the AFL finals series.
Well-Being Australia theologian also notes the social impact that this game has had up north. The Darwin game was a highlight for the sports crazy locals. The game provided an opportunity for the community to meet and watch some of their sporting heroes. During their trip to the NT, several Bulldogs players took part in remote indigenous communities health and wellbeing workshops. The tours, run through Red Dust Role Models, have been taking athletes and musicians into remote communities around NT. The inclusion of some of the Bulldogs players is a real boost for the at-risk youth in these communities because these sports stars are seen as positive role models. Find out more at http://www.reddust.org.au/