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Bontempelli praises young forwards

Ash Hansen previews GWS clash Assistant coach Ash Hansen joins Bob Murphy to preview the Western Bulldogs' Round 22 clash against GWS on Sunday

Vice-captain Marcus Bontempelli has praised the impact of emerging key forwards Aaron Naughton and Josh Schache.

Naughton and Schache – aged just 19 and 21 respectively – have helped guide a developing Bulldogs’ forward line to seventh for points scored in 2019.

Both were high selections in their respective draft years, with Naughton swinging forward late in the 2019 pre-season after playing his debut season in defence, and Schache starting to establish himself in his second season as a Bulldog.

Naughton has played every game this season – leading the competition for contested marks (47) sitting second for goals at VU Whitten Oval (27) – while Schache has slotted 18 goals in his 11 matches at AFL level.

“What Aaron’s been able to do off the back of virtually three quarters of the pre-season as a defender (has been great),” Bontempelli told SEN Breakfast on Friday.

“Coming in and playing that key forward role for us, with his obvious jumping and marking ability, but then his ability at ground level is something that’s really underrated as well. 

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“He’s so clean and polished and does a lot of work.

“Josh as well, he’s really grown again this year with his ability to compete, his repeat efforts and just giving a great contest a lot of the time.

“Some of the smaller forwards in our forward line have benefitted really well from that.”

The Bulldogs will be hoping their goal-kickers can get the job done again this week, against the finals-bound GWS Giants on their home turf.

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With a spot in September still up for grabs, and congestion at the lower end of the top eight, Bontempelli said the team was optimistic they could finish the season strongly.

“It’s been good for us to hit a bit of form post the bye, and playing a few games that obviously have put us in a position now to hopefully go on and do something a bit further,” he said.

“Our mentality is we’ve just got to stick to what we’ve been doing the last few weeks, and let the results and what not pan out themselves, and just do our best to win the next couple of weeks.” 

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