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Dogs spread the midfield load

A combination of absent stars and tactics from the opposition is creating more versatility for the Bulldogs' engine room.

The Western Bulldogs continue to evolve their midfield mix, with a combination of absent stars and tactics from the opposition creating more versatility for the engine room.

With centre square guns Adam Treloar and Josh Dunkley out injured, the Bulldogs coaches have been more inventive with their midfield rotations recently, in a bid to get an edge over the opposition.

Clearance specialist Tom Liberatore has been most closely checked by the opposition, with others playing their role to spread the load.

The likes of Bailey Smith, Caleb Daniel, Jason Johannisen and Anthony Scott have played more minutes lately, to complement the likes of ‘Libba’, Marcus Bontempelli and Jack Macrae.

“We’ve thrown some challenges to some of the lads who haven’t played a lot of AFL footy in the midfield,” coach Luke Beveridge said.

“That’s what we’re going to need - we’re going to spread the load a little bit.”

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Liberatore overcame a slow start against the Dockers on Sunday to have a major say in the outcome, particularly with back-to-back majors in the third quarter when the game was in the balance.

“It was a very influential third quarter from Tommy,” Beveridge said.

“They (goals) were both extremely significant.  At times we weren’t taking our chances…they were critical scoring shots for us.

“I think he managed the run-with better this week, and we were able to help him here and there, but he helped himself.”

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Daniel’s role was also critical for the Bulldogs in the win over Fremantle – he finished with 23 disposals and six tackles - and had more influence on the contest as the game wore on.

“He’s played some inside mid stuff over the journey, but he probably hasn’t been in many centre bounces,” Beveridge said.

“I thought he played a really important role for us tonight.  He’s like the little engine that could.  He just keeps going and going and going, and he was crucial to our chances to finish the game off late.

“Late in the game he got himself out in space, he was able to chain, he gave us a look at our inside 50 in open field a little bit easier.  It was an important night for him.”

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