Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says Marcus Bontempelli’s performance to help his side to a win over Essendon was “huge” as he allayed fears over the captain’s sore calf.
Beveridge said Bontempelli just had a “slight niggle” which had led to his right calf being strapped heavily before the game, adding the injury had not been aggravated during his superb 29-disposal, two-goal performance.
He praised Tom Liberatore and Adam Treloar for their influence in the middle alongside the Bulldogs skipper as they caused a dramatic turnaround in clearances after quarter-time.
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The Bulldogs were thumped 4-12 in clearances during the first quarter but completely reversed the flow at stoppages in the next term, claiming a 16-3 advantage.
“You have to put Libba in that boat as well … those two were highly influential, and with Adam (Treloar), their centre bounce work together, the three of them were critical in the scheme of things,” Beveridge said.
“Marcus did some special things, as he can do from game to game, and he was very influential. He’s just had a little bit of a niggle that he’s carried, we modified him a bit this week.
“He’s just got a slight niggle there that’s a bit annoying more than anything … he didn’t aggravate it tonight – hopefully it’s a bit better coming into next week.”
Five-time All-Australian Garry Lyon pointed to two Bontempelli moments in the third quarter from the win over Essendon that personified the Dogs skipper’s brilliance.
The first saw Bontempelli get involved in a passage of play at half-back, sprint forward as the Dogs moved the ball, receive the footy inside 50 and snap a brilliant left-foot goal from a tight angle.
But Lyon was particularly in awe of a courageous contested intercept mark on the wing just before the three quarter-time siren.
“His game sense and his understanding … and his want to be involved at both ends of the ground and impact where he can, it separates him from almost every footy player in the competition,” Lyon told Fox Footy post-game.
‘Respect’: Epic play sums up Bont | 01:28
“That (the intercept mark) for me defines him … You know you’re going to get that (goal) in the highlight reel and everyone’s showing that goal. But when you’ve got to go back with the flight right on three quarter-time not knowing what’s coming the other way? Respect.”
Four-time premiership Hawk Jordan Lewis added: “He’s arguably the best moment player in the competition right now. When he’s called upon and there’s something up for grabs, whether offence or defence, he’s right in the thick of it.”
Bontempelli this year has kicked 15 goals and averaged a career-high disposals (27.3), contested possessions (14.0), tackles (7.4) and clearances (7.4).
Triple All-Australian said Bontempelli was his favourite to win the Brownlow Medal and be named All-Australian captain.
“I’ve heard of Daicos, Butters, Petracca all having great years. But we are underselling Marcus Bontempelli’s year,” Dal Santo told Fox Footy Live.
“This man needs to start wearing his underwear on the outside. You know why? He’s a superhero.
“He’s a star and so clearly their best player by so far.”
Triple premiership forward Cameron Mooney dubbed him a “Rolls Royce”.
“He’s one of those people, like a Joel Selwood, where they walk into the club and you go: ‘How lucky are we?’” he told Fox Footy Live.
Beveridge praised the Bulldogs’ “even” performance alongside their inspirational captain, saying they sometimes did not lift alongside him despite his best efforts.
Bulldogs bite back to down Dons | 02:49
“He doesn’t always get the best out of his teammates, but he’s always trying to,” Beveridge said.
“I think tonight it was a bit more of an even performance, and I was pleased with the way our backs held up too, when you consider they had 49 (forward) entries. For them to kick just 7.7 from those 49, that’s a good outcome for us.”
— with NCA NewsWire
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