FIRST-YEAR player Marcus Bontempelli booted a remarkable goal at the death to lift the Western Bulldogs to a six-point win over Melbourne in Sunday's topsy-turvy thriller at Etihad Stadium.

The Bulldogs were 37 points in front early in the second term thanks to seven consecutive goals, only to fade terribly and hand the lead back to the Demons before three-quarter time.

There was never more than seven points in it during a dramatic final stanza, but the Dogs won 14.7 (91) to 13.7 (85).

Bontempelli kicked the final two goals of the game, the last a showstopper with a tick over three minutes remaining.

The action all took part deep in the left forward pocket at the Footscray end, where the 18-year-old with no room to move made his eighth match one to remember.

Bontempelli dispossessed James Frawley, gathered the Sherrin then got rid of would-be tackler Rohan Bail to snap truly from an incredibly tight angle.

The Demons continued to press but couldn't stop the Dogs from triumphing. 

"I don't know if there was enough time to look at the sticks really," Bontempelli told Fairfax Radio when asked if his stunning goal was luck or not.

"There were a few guys around the pack. I was just going for a score and it was lucky enough to go through."

Coach Brendan McCartney paid tribute to the young gun, who was recruited with pick No. 4 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft. 

"He’s just so level, things don’t worry him, he’s young in his career," the coach said. 

"It was interesting, the first time I met him, you feel an attachment to him as a person because the quality shone through in him and his family.

"It was a different home interview when we go and meet young people, but I’m so glad we did it. I’m so glad we made it and I’m so glad we connected." 

Robert Murphy and Dale Morris were excellent in defence for the Bulldogs, while stand-in skipper Will Minson rucked himself to exhaustion while being double-teamed by Mark Jamar and Max Gawn.

The contest was studded by controversial umpiring decisions.

Bail was harassed over the goal-line in the second term, but officials deemed he wasn't under sufficient pressure and gifted Jake Stringer one of his career-best four goals.

Melbourne's Dean Terlich suffered a shoulder injury late in the third term and played no further part in the game.

Jeremy Howe was a star for the Demons, who poured on seven goals in the third quarter.

However, coach Paul Roos was left frustrated by his team's slow start, which saw them 37 points behind half way through the second term. 

"In AFL footy, if you don't come ready to play you end up six goals behind," he said.  

"It is obviously still part of us as a club still learning. When we started to play the way we wanted to play we played really well. 

"It's just that ability to front up week in week out that the boys really struggle with at the moment."  

WESTERN BULLDOGS      4.1   7.4    10.4   14.7   (91)                  
MELBOURNE     1.3   3.4    10.5   13.7   (85)          
Western Bulldogs: Stringer 4, Bontempelli 2, Crameri 2, Dahlhaus, Honeychurch, Minson, Boyd, Higgins, Hunter
Melbourne: Jamar 3, Dawes 2, Grimes 2, Pedersen, Gawn, Watts, Vince, Viney, Jetta
Western Bulldogs: Boyd, Stringer, Bontempelli, Murphy, Wallis, Stevens
Melbourne: Howe, Jamar, Watts, Grimes, Frawley
Western Bulldogs: Tutt replaced in selected side by Roberts
Melbourne: Terlich (shoulder)
Western Bulldogs: Nathan Hrovat replaced Liam Jones at threee-quarter time
Melbourne: Dom Barry replaced Dean Terlich at three-quarter time
Reports: Nil
Umpires: Chamberlain, Harris, Mollison
Official crowd: 24,953 at Etihad Stadium