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The five players your team can least afford to lose: Western Bulldogs

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Roar Guru
2nd October, 2021
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The Western Bulldogs had 15 wins and seven losses in the home-and-away season in season 2021.

They won nine of their first ten matches, but only won six of their last 12 games of the home-and-away season. They went from a certainty to finish in the top four to finishing fifth on the AFL ladder.

The Bulldogs squandered a chance to finish in the top four and therefore they didn’t have the double chance. Despite that, they managed to win three finals in a row and then fell short in the grand final. Therefore, they are second for the purpose of this exercise.

The Bulldogs had four players that played all 26 games: Jack Macrae, Marcus Bontempelli, Bailey Dale and Bailey Smith.

There were a lot of players that missed out on selection in this article that could’ve considered themselves unlucky, but that’s what happens when your team managed to make the grand final.

To be eligible for selection, it’s essential that each player selected featured in at least five games in season 2021. Here are the five players (with an honourable mention selected) that the Bulldogs could least afford to lose based on their performances in season 2021:

6. Tom Liberatore
Liberatore averaged the seventh-most contested possessions of any player in the competition in season 2021. He featured in 25 of the 26 games that the Bulldogs played. Along with that, he averaged the most clearances of any player in the competition.

He also won the ball in the middle of the ground as he averaged the fifth-most centre clearances of any player in the competition. He finished third in the Bulldogs’ best and fairest in season 2021.

Tom Liberatore of the Bulldogs

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

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5. Josh Bruce
Bruce only failed to kick a goal in one game in season 2021, which came in Round 15 against the Eagles, which the Bulldogs won by 55 points. It indicates that the Bulldogs system wasn’t impacted negatively if he failed to hit the scoreboard. Along with that, it also showed why he was such an important part of the Bulldogs structure.

The Bulldogs lost three of the six games that he was unavailable for due to injury.

4. Alex Keath
Keath was an important part of the Bulldogs team in season 2021. He was their best key defender and a pivotal part of their system. He featured in 23 of 26 games. The Bulldogs missed him in Round 21 as the Bombers key forward Peter Wright kicked seven goals, which can be attributed to Keath being unavailable due to injury.

Along with that, he averaged the most intercepts of any Bulldogs player, with an average of 6.43 intercepts per game.

3. Caleb Daniel
Daniel is a unique player, as he makes things happen. He kept the Bulldogs within 21 points of the Demons at quarter-time of the AFL grand final in season 2021, because he never stopped working constructively. He averaged the third-most disposals of any Bulldogs player with an average of 25.24 disposals per game. One of his disposals is worth two of some other players. He displayed why he is such a unique player with solid consistency in season 2021.

2. Jack Macrae
Macrae had an outstanding season as he had the most disposals of any player in any season and was selected in the midfield of the AFL All-Australian team for season 2021. He won the Gary Ayres Medal for the best player as voted for by the coaches in the finals series for season 2021.

Jackson Macrae of the Bulldogs looks to handball

(Photo by Steve Bell/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

1. Marcus Bontempelli
Bontempelli was consistent, displayed great leadership and was rewarded by being selected on the half-forward flank in the AFL All-Australian team for season 2021. Along with that, he was named vice-captain of the All-Australian team, which he thoroughly deserved.

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He also won the Bulldogs best and fairest. In the grand final he was instrumental in the Bulldogs accumulating a 19-point lead in the third quarter, but after that not even he could stop the avalanche of momentum that the Demons built up to win comprehensively in the end.

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