Dockers plot to stop Bulldogs running riot

·2-min read

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir has been drawing up plans to prevent the Western Bulldogs midfield "running riot", but whether he sends a tagger to Marcus Bontempelli at Optus Stadium on Sunday remains to be seen.

The Bulldogs sit second on the AFL ladder following the club's stunning 9-2 start to the year, with their star-studded midfield playing a key role in their success.

Lachie Hunter, Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, and Bailey Smith have all racked up huge numbers this year, leaving Longmuir with a dilemma about who to shut down.

Bontempelli looms as the obvious choice, and it could be left to the 179cm Caleb Serong to do the job.

The second-year midfielder has already become a noted ball winner himself, but he's also thrived when given shutdown roles.

Last year, he restricted Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield to just 18 disposals in what was only Serong's fifth AFL match.

Three weeks ago, Serong kept Essendon star Zach Merrett to a season-low 22 disposals and no clearances.

Bontempelli is averaging 27 disposals a game this year, and has booted 15 goals from 11 matches.

Longmuir says he will weigh up whether to tag the superstar.

"He's a chance," Longmuir said.

"We can't just let their midfield run riot, which they can do.

"We'll be putting time into all of them. But whether he gets a specific job, or we go to Macrae or someone like that, we're undecided at this stage."

The Bulldogs will be aiming to bounce back from last week's 28-point loss to Melbourne.

They've been bolstered by the return of ruckman Stefan Martin from an Achilles tendon injury, while Mitch Hannan, Anthony Scott and Ryan Gardner were also recalled.

Last week's debutant Riley Garcia (concussion) was forced out, while Pat Lipinski, Jordon Sweet and Lachie McNeil were dropped.

Fremantle (5-6) have lost four of their past five games, which included last week's 46-point loss to Port Adelaide.

But the return of key backman Griffin Logue and spearhead Matt Taberner from injury will give the Dockers vital stability at both ends of the field.