AFL 1 year ago

Young Dogs star up for AFL finals fight

  • Young Dogs star up for AFL finals fight

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 12: Marcus Bontempelli of the Bulldogs celebrates a goal during the 2016 AFL Round 21 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Collingwood Magpies at Etihad Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Western Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli will shoulder plenty of responsibility in Thursday night's elimination final whether he captains his side or not.

The 20-year-old has stood in for replacement skipper Easton Wood during his injury layoff and could do so again against West Coast if Wood doesn't shake off an ankle injury.

But the greater responsibility will be to perform when it counts most in a pressure-packed contest and Bontempelli has a track record of doing just that.

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"I don't think you go into games hoping for that (pressure situation) ... it's just probably a knack to be honest," Bontempelli said.

"I don't know whether you say certain players come to the fore but I just probably understand the game and turn it up a tiny little bit when the game gets close.

"But a lot of it is natural to be honest. You stay in the game, you keep your head in it.

"I think as a team we've been able to close out games well together."

Wood is one of a host of key players who pressed their claims for a recall during a closed training session at Whitten Oval on Monday.

Tom Liberatore (ankle), Jack Macrae (hamstring) and Tom Boyd (ankle) all took part, while forward Jake Stringer is expected to end his two-game exile in the VFL as the Dogs seek an upset win over the Eagles in Perth.

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