24/04/2024

Western Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli tuned up in fine style as the Bulldogs accounted for Melbourne. Image Source: @westernbulldogs Twitter

The Western Bulldogs tuned up for a big season in fine style against Melbourne at Marvel Stadium.

Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs finished their final preparations for Round 1 on Monday afternoon at Marvel Stadium.

Despite some wayward kicking, a Bulldog burst at the start of the second half was enough to create enough separation as they accounted for the Demons by 39 points.

Dogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli led the way for his team. Prolific in the middle of the ground and the front half, leading all comers with 32 disposals and 3 goals, firing a warning shot to the rest of the competition that he has indeed gone to a new level.

Kicking specialist Caleb Daniel also picked up where he left off from last season with his precision kicking out of the defence and looks to be a real beneficiary of taking the extra space offered with the new rules in play.

Melbourne took a bit of time to get its game going with its trademark run and press but once they did, they caused all sorts of problems for the Bulldog’s defence. Using the extra space provided by the new rules to their advantage.

After securing high-profile recruit Adam Treloar from Collingwood in the off-season, the watch was firmly on how the star midfield mix of the Bulldogs would set up and how they would adapt with a glut of A-grade midfielders.

Jack Macrae and Marcus Bontempelli were prolific through the centre of the ground and around the ball for the Bulldogs, attending the majority of centre bounces for the Dogs throughout the game.

While all their stars spent time through the middle of the ground, the breakdowns showed that the load will be shared, all signs point to Beveridge going with his tried and tested guns as his one-two punch through the centre.

Treloar is still on his way back from a calf injury but played in this morning’s VFL trial for Footscray with Beveridge hinting that he is on track to good to go come Round 1 against his old side.

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge was happy with the outcome, with the result providing a chance to gain greater clarity about the groups ceiling this year.

“These games help us solidify our thinking about what we might be able to achieve as a team round to round if we apply ourselves in a certain way,” Beveridge said.

“Melbourne challenged us especially in that second quarter, and to have the presence of mind and composure to then gel again and then come over the top was important for us.”

The focus was also on the ruck combination for both sides, with both sides running with a master and apprentice combination.

After the recruitment of former Lion, Stefan Martin to assist young gun Tim English.

The senior Martin took the majority of centre bounce ruck contests (15) and swapped intermittently with the younger English.

“We were really pleased with the combination,” Beveridge said.

“Stefan played a lot of minutes there today but it allowed Tim to play forward and I thought in the second half he was a real threat.”

Josh Dunkley also took a handful of centre bounce ruck taps which raised plenty of eyebrows too.

Max Gawn and second-year player Luke Jackson were more equal splitting the centre bounce contests fairly evenly for the Demons.

Star defender Steven May was busy in the back half for the Demons all day with nine rebound 50s apart of his 27-disposal game.

Christian Petracca and Ed Langdon were busy for the Demons through the midfield while youngster Jake Bowey also saw game time in the second half, getting a taste for what may lie ahead in his first season.

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said post-match that it was a disappointing day for his side, but Goodwin still took positives following two big pre-season hitouts today and last week against Richmond.

“Nothing in terms of the way we wanted to play turned out that way, but in saying that, the week before was exactly the way we want to play against the Tigers,” Goodwin said.

“We’ve seen what works, what doesn’t work, what makes our game work, so that is good learning for the players.”

Bayley Fritsch was again the main target in the Demons forward line, with the club’s leading goalkicker from last season providing a reliable avenue to goal with 3 goals.

Both sides will be sweating on injury concerns, just 10 days out from the start of the season.

Star Bulldog Aaron Naughton didn’t return to the field after half-time with a suspected forearm injury while young wingman Laitham Vandermeer’s day was finished early with a corked hip.

Rebounding defender Hayden Crozier also left the field with a shoulder complaint in the third quarter.

He returned to the field briefly but Beveridge confirmed after the game that Crozier had suffered an AC joint injury.

Demon Jay Lockhart’s day was done early and was taken to hospital to be assessed for a testicle injury.

Steven May also didn’t finish the game after landing heavily on his chest and will be assessed over the coming days.

Star midfielder Clayton Oliver missed today’s match with general soreness while Angus Brayshaw played in the VFL practice match for Casey and is firming as a Round 1 starter.

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