Bontempelli signals a changing of the guard

According to a tweet Gerard Wheatley sent out on the weekend, Australian comedian Wil Anderson went up to Marcus Bontempelli’s mum after the Western Bulldogs’ stirring victory over reigning premiers Hawthorn and simply said, “thank you”.

Source: Michael Willson - AFL Media

Source: Michael Willson – AFL Media

To that she replied, “I get that a lot”.


At only 20 years of age, Marcus Bontempelli has impacted the game like some of the very best in the AFL.


So much so, it is hard to believe he is in fact, only 20.


He was the youngest member of the All-Australian side this year, and in Friday night’s 23-point, semi-final win, he showed why.


After a slow start, where he was in a tough match up against Liam Shiels, Bontempelli fought back by using his height to his advantage and continually going third man up at the contest.


With seven hit-outs to his name, he started raking up possessions and clearances, and gained more confidence as the minutes ticked by.


He moved into the forward line in the second quarter, where he took such a brilliant mark it was a highlight of the game.


Against Luke Hodge, one of the modern day greats, he protected the space between him and the goals with such strong bodywork, took the contested mark and goaled.


Extraordinarily, that was not even his best highlight against Hodge in the match; at the start of the fourth quarter he deflected a handball of Hodge’s coming out of defence, swiftly picked it up and found Tory Dickson who was alone inside 50.


He goaled, which took their lead to 32 points, making it incredibly tough for the Hawks to get back from there.


This one passage of play highlights his ability to read the game and his poise, and despite it all happening so quickly, he was able to kick it to the advantage of his teammate.


As a dynamic midfielder, his ability to weave through players on the field and deal with the pressure while still showcasing such silky skills is what makes him standout.


And in what is just an added bonus, his height also makes him a strong key position player, as he showed against Hodge.


Bontempelli finished the game with 27 disposals, two goals and eight clearances.


Most importantly though, Bontempelli stood up when his team needed him, and that is what all the great players do for their teams.


This game signaled the end of an era, with Hawthorn’s quest for a fourth straight flag coming to an end.


Perhaps though, it also signaled the start of a new one, where Bontempelli is one of the premier players in the competition, and his young Dogs can beat anyone.


The preliminary final between the Bulldogs and Greater Western Sydney will naturally be one of the most anticipated games of season.


With two extremely tough and talented young lists on show, it will be a cracking contest.


The winner will definitely be deserving of their place in the grand final.


Written by Kirralee Thomas @kirralee_thomas

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