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Bont switch that can revitalise Libba


Liberatore, 29, spent 90 per cent of game time forward in the loss to Melbourne and attended just one centre bounce in what was the biggest shock pulled by coach Luke Beveridge.Stream every match of every round of the 2022 Toyota AFL Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >Emerging star Bailey Smith (17 centre bounces) appeared to take Liberatore’s place in the centre square and thrived after a third AFL pre-season.But it was to Liberatore’s detriment, who looked out of sorts at half-forward and unable to impact the grand final rematch.The stoppage beast who placed third in last year’s best-and-fairest was identified as the No.1 threat by some clubs as he was tagged by James Harmes (Melbourne) and Caleb Serong (Fremantle).Fox Footy analyst Leigh Montagna told the Herald Sun that unleashing Bontempelli forward against Carlton at Marvel Stadium on Thursday night was the simplest path for Liberatore to return to the guts.“For the Dogs to be the biggest threat they can be Liberatore has got to be in the centre bounce and they can afford to play Marcus Bontempelli more in that front-half role,” Montagna said.“He can still come up to stoppage and still get involved, but play more in that forward half because he’s much more of a forward threat than Liberatore is.”LACKLUSTRE LIBBALiberatore’s 90-10 forward-midfield split last week was in stark contrast to last year, when he played 87 per cent of minutes in the midfield.Unleashing Bontempelli forward would also ease the reliance on spearhead Aaron Naughton, who will come up against super stopper Jacob Weitering on Thursday.The Dogs averaged 94.7 points and scored from 46.8 per cent of inside 50s in Rounds 1-21 last season.But since Josh Bruce suffered a knee injury in round 21 they have averaged just 74 points and scored from only 37.5 per cent of entries.Weitering comprehensively beat Naughton last year, but the Dogs rode Bruce’s bag of five goals to a comeback victory against the Blues.“I think Bontempelli needs to kick three and have 25 rather than having 35 in the midfield,” Montagna said.“You look at the weekend – (Patrick) Cripps kicking three, (Luke) Parker kicking five, Dustin Martin’s done it for so long, (Christian) Petracca does it.“Bontempelli is the midfielder in that group that has the ability to do damage on the scoreboard, so for the Dogs to be more of a threat he needs to play more in that forward-half role and that allows Libba to go back into what he does best.”The Dogs are 10-3 when Bontempelli kicks three goals or more.

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