Opinion Your preferred midfield makeup

Remove this Banner Ad

Igloo

Not a mod
May 23, 2009
48,862
44,567
Geelong
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
After the drubbing that our mids experienced in the second half of the game, and the complete inability to go with Melbourne defensively, it got me thinking about what mix of players would have been best to try and combat it.

We have a great midfield. It's a strange thing to say after they just got comprehensively beaten down, but we do. Bont, Macrae, Libba, Treloar, Dunkley, Smith. 6 does not go into 3, so who do you want at the centre bounce when the whips are cracking?

I do think we have a slight problem in that our mix isn't particularly defensively minded. Dunkley and Libba are probably the only two that it comes naturally to, and neither are particularly quick.

Personally, I favour the Bont/Dunkley/Treloar mix for a centre bounce. Dunkley a bit more defensively minded, Treloar the quicker offensively minded, and Bont as Bont. I would start Macrae on a wing, but then for stoppages bring him in closer, and push Treloar wider.
It's sacrilege, but i'm not sure what to do with Libba going forward. Obviously he's a hugely important part of the team. Ability wise, spiritually, and that compared to some of his teammates he doesn't take any sh*t. If we kept going with him in our main centre bounce rotation we will win a lot of games, no doubt. But can we win a premiership in this current climate where the mids are getting bigger and quicker? He'll be 30 next year, and if he doesn't get that first quick tackle he's not going to keep up defensively out of a centre bounce. Yes it may be reactive to the obliteration we just received, but we just got f’ed, so reactive thoughts will be posted.

As for Smith, he hasn't worked terribly well on a wing most of the time he has played there. This half forward pushing up role has been decent for him, but realistically, he's a midfielder who needs to be playing as one. In my preferred set up, if it's not Treloar in, it would be Smith.

In conclusion, to the surprise of no one, we have a lot of mids. Where would you put them?
 

Mahama

Team Captain
Dec 28, 2003
405
219
Canberra
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
When a team has all the momentum and is coming out the front of the stoppage repeatedly with minimal pressure, we need our best defensive midfielders in there. That's Dunkley and Bont.

Leg speed is almost irrelevant - it wasn't leg speed that was getting the Melbourne mids goal-side. It was the little things - fends, taps and toe pokes to get the ball moving in their direction, and shepherds to create space. All that combined, along with their confidence that they could run forward of the ball, was deadly.

Bont and Dunkley are the number 1 and 2 midfielders in the league for one percenters (smothers, shepherds and spoils), clear equal first when you remove spoils from the equation. Both are bigger physically than 99% of midfielders and work incredibly hard defensively.

I'd be happy with any of the other mid in that third spot, they're all capable enough.

But in 2022, if a team starts getting that kind of run out of the middle, I'll be very disappointed not to see Bont and Dunkley in there straight away, doing what they're great at. I was losing it after goals 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of their run yesterday that we refused to get Dunkley in the middle at all. It's solidifying as the big 'what if?' from that game for me.

Another point - I'm pretty certain wings can line up anywhere on their wing after a goal. It doesn't have to be right in the middle. So put either of our wings a good 10m on the defensive half of their wing, and as soon as the ball is bounced have them run hard inwards and act as a sweeper.

Finally, and not at all related to our mids but more generally about what we can do to stop these bursts of goals that have killed us at times this season... I really hope Bevo is more willing to swing Naughton back to defence next year. Like Chris Grant, he's elite at both ends of the ground. Let's use that.

None of this has to last for more than a couple of centre bounces, and it's no shame that we have to pull these kind of defensive levers even though we want to back our mids as being able to outplay everyone. It's just an acknowledgment that, with the 6-6-6 rule, sometimes the other team is going to have a huge amount of momentum, and we to be able to react strongly. Otherwise, the game could be out of reach in the blink of an eye.
 

Here we go dogs

All Australian
Sep 17, 2014
675
894
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Who was actually in their yesterday when Melbourne got the run in the third?

Can’t bring myself to watching it again..

I know Bont was off and libba was in. That’s all I remember.
 

Log in to remove this ad.

Virgin Dog

Norm Smith Medallist
Oct 29, 2017
9,062
19,033
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
I'd like our default setup to include a defensively minded mid specialising in contested work (Libba/Dunkley/West), a burst mid (Smith/Treloar) and one of Bont or Macrae.

When teams start running over us in the middle (like midway through the 3rd), that's where I'd pull out the burst mid and add a spare of the Libba/Dunkley/West type. Smith in particular looks lost when the opposition has possession.

Ideally we'd add a physical ruck who can both compete and follow up the ground ball (eg. Flynn, although that sounds unlikely)
 

Golden_6

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 15, 2014
6,692
12,177
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Other Teams
Chicago Bulls
Who was actually in their yesterday when Melbourne got the run in the third?

Can’t bring myself to watching it again..

I know Bont was off and libba was in. That’s all I remember.
I really want to rewatch that 10 minute patch to analyse is but I just can’t do it. Hopefully someone else does it for me.
 

Here we go dogs

All Australian
Sep 17, 2014
675
894
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
I really want to rewatch that 10 minute patch to analyse is but I just can’t do it. Hopefully someone else does it for me.
I don’t think I can ever bring myself to rewatching that one. I am more hurt that were in a winning position than the final margin
 

Mahama

Team Captain
Dec 28, 2003
405
219
Canberra
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
I had a look while I was still numb last night - wasn't fun.

From Fritsch's first goal to to the 7th of the quarter, I believe it was:

Libba-Macrae-Treloar
Libba-Macrae-Treloar
Libba-Macrae-Bont
Libba-Macrae-Bont
Libba-Treloar-Bont
Libba-Treloar-Bont
Libba-Treloar-Bont

And a mix of Martin and English as ruck.

At all 7 the positional setup was exactly the same. Players at 4 o'clock, 7 o'clock, 10 o'clock. Libba at 7'oclock rotates to the defensive side of the contest to theoretically stop that easy clearance exit. At all 7 our wings start in the middle of their wing and walk slowly inwards when the ball is bounced.

If we changed our setup to try to stop their run, I didn't notice it.
 

TiAn_

Premiership Player
Sep 19, 2006
4,954
12,437
Melbourne
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Probably Bont, Dunkley and Treloar/Smith I love Libba but I’d take 2019 form Dunkley and his bigger body and defensive instincts in there over him. And we need some burst out of there.

However it doesn’t matter which mids you have in there during an opposition run on if you have a ruck that is only capable/dumb enough to keep hitting the ball defensive side even though the opposition has been jogging it out of the front of the square repeatedly.

Get a ruck that can at least neutralize their opponent or better yet actually hit one of our mids/drop the ball at their feet to at a minimum force a second stoppage and slow the game down.
 

Struggle

Norm Smith Medallist
Oct 9, 2014
8,812
14,889
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
I had a look while I was still numb last night - wasn't fun.

From Fritsch's first goal to to the 7th of the quarter, I believe it was:

Libba-Macrae-Treloar
Libba-Macrae-Treloar
Libba-Macrae-Bont
Libba-Macrae-Bont
Libba-Treloar-Bont
Libba-Treloar-Bont
Libba-Treloar-Bont

And a mix of Martin and English as ruck.

At all 7 the positional setup was exactly the same. Players at 4 o'clock, 7 o'clock, 10 o'clock. Libba at 7'oclock rotates to the defensive side of the contest to theoretically stop that easy clearance exit. At all 7 our wings start in the middle of their wing and walk slowly inwards when the ball is bounced.

If we changed our setup to try to stop their run, I didn't notice it.
That's shithouse. After 2 you have to send Dunks in there

Great point further up about the wings too, there's no reason they can't start on the back corner of the square
 

Substance

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 6, 2012
8,766
13,997
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
I had a look while I was still numb last night - wasn't fun.

From Fritsch's first goal to to the 7th of the quarter, I believe it was:

Libba-Macrae-Treloar
Libba-Macrae-Treloar
Libba-Macrae-Bont
Libba-Macrae-Bont
Libba-Treloar-Bont
Libba-Treloar-Bont
Libba-Treloar-Bont

And a mix of Martin and English as ruck.

At all 7 the positional setup was exactly the same. Players at 4 o'clock, 7 o'clock, 10 o'clock. Libba at 7'oclock rotates to the defensive side of the contest to theoretically stop that easy clearance exit. At all 7 our wings start in the middle of their wing and walk slowly inwards when the ball is bounced.

If we changed our setup to try to stop their run, I didn't notice it.

Dunkley got 3 centre bounces all night. Either we trade him or he gets more.
 

Norm De Guerre

Left of the dial.
Mar 27, 2004
9,657
28,553
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Other Teams
Australian Farnarkling XI
I had a look while I was still numb last night - wasn't fun.

From Fritsch's first goal to to the 7th of the quarter, I believe it was:

Libba-Macrae-Treloar
Libba-Macrae-Treloar
Libba-Macrae-Bont
Libba-Macrae-Bont
Libba-Treloar-Bont
Libba-Treloar-Bont
Libba-Treloar-Bont

And a mix of Martin and English as ruck.

At all 7 the positional setup was exactly the same. Players at 4 o'clock, 7 o'clock, 10 o'clock. Libba at 7'oclock rotates to the defensive side of the contest to theoretically stop that easy clearance exit. At all 7 our wings start in the middle of their wing and walk slowly inwards when the ball is bounced.

If we changed our setup to try to stop their run, I didn't notice it.
Thanks for doing that, so that I dont have to.

From what I recall Libba was always directly in-line with the goal when on the defensive side of the bounce. The issue as I remember it is that Petracca and Oliver would exit the contest wide and at full speed. Thus leaving Libba flat footed wide of the contest and unable to do anything about the breaker that just blew by him. The time for that was in the initial contest at the fall of the ball and the best option for this would've been Dunkley. However Im not sure that he would've made the difference once the game so obviously turned against us.

After all. Tidal waves dont beg forgiveness on their way to a premiership.
 

Mahama

Team Captain
Dec 28, 2003
405
219
Canberra
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Dunkley got 3 centre bounces all night. Either we trade him or he gets more.
Thanks for that info. Just went and found them, all in the first quarter, and seeing what he did... Now it hurts even more he wasn't in there in the third.

At all 3 he was in Libba's spot:
  1. Got on the end of a handball for a big clearance.
  2. Massive defensive chase and tackle, contested ground ball get and handball for the clearance.
  3. Secondary stoppage - though went and put his head over the ball seconds later with the ball in Melbourne's 50 and won a free kick.
 

(Log in to remove this ad.)

TMoney22

Premiership Player
Sep 15, 2010
3,106
2,715
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Other Teams
Utah Jazz, San Jose Sharks
Surely the wings have to get in quicker to help stop Oliver and petracca pouncing on wide hit outs. Smith and Treloar could have done that
 

House_of_Dahl

Norm Smith Medallist
Oct 12, 2012
5,818
8,637
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
As much as I love him think we have to prepare for life without Libba. He's been great this year but the end will come quickly after doing that many knees. Dunks the obvious replacement which adds more size and a bit more pace too. Garcia and West possibilities
 

Martyn_30_

Club Legend
Sep 14, 2007
2,168
2,939
Melbourne
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Give Melbourne a sub standard ruckmen and then see how their midfield goes. You can afford to run forwards of the ball in the centre when you generally win the hit outs.

Geelong and Collingwood won flags largely due to getting a competent ruckman. Without a competitive ruckman you go into every game with one hand tied behind your back with the 6 6 6, especially on a longer ground such as Optus stadium.


On iPhone using BigFooty.com mobile app
 

Unorth

Club Legend
Apr 3, 2014
1,684
5,533
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
I do get a bit frustrated sometimes that, despite our deep midfield rotation, we rely on Bont to step up and be the hero so often. And then when things are really going south, you see Bont trying to will the team on and he just gets nothing in return.

I'd love to be able to see Bont up fwd more. With Macrae, Libba, Dunks etc, in theory we should be able to. But I feel like whenever things really go to sh*t for us we're trying to rest Bont up forward or he's on the bench. We should be better than this by now, and Bont has produced so much for us he deserves some reliable help in the biggest moments.

Dees have Petracca and Oliver. But nobody talks about Bont and X. We rate Libba and Macrae that highly - but the difference between those two and Oliver (as a reliable partner for Bont/Petracca) showed.

Treloar had an impact and Baz certainly tried. Handball club needs to be retired with how the game is played/ruled now. Those two are well suited to 6/6/6. Need to figure out a way to increase the versatility of Macrae and Libba to better balance our rotations.
 

Oliver Gigacz

Premium Platinum
May 14, 2009
2,020
4,301
Melbourne
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Who was actually in their yesterday when Melbourne got the run in the third?

Can’t bring myself to watching it again..

I know Bont was off and libba was in. That’s all I remember.
Oliver Gigacz would have the stats I reckon

Centre Bounce Attendance (Q3 15:00 to 3QT)
7 - Liberatore
6 - Treloar
5 - Bontempelli
4 - English
3 - Macrae, Martin

Incredibly Macrae our best clearance winner over the past 2 months attended just 3 of the 7 centre bounces.
 

Substance

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 6, 2012
8,766
13,997
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Centre Bounce Attendance (Q3 15:00 to 3QT)
7 - Liberatore
6 - Treloar
5 - Bontempelli
4 - English
3 - Macrae, Martin

Incredibly Macrae our best clearance winner over the past 2 months attended just 3 of the 7 centre bounces.

So I think we can agree Libba/Treloar out and Dunkley/Macrae in. Hard to make those changes quickly but it should have happened by the end of the 3rd.
 

Remove this Banner Ad

Remove this Banner Ad