Marcus Bontempelli display sends AFL world into frenzy after epic battle with Nick Daicos

AFL fans and commentators are all saying the same thing about the Western Bulldogs captain.

Nick Daicos has nearly taken the crown, but Marcus Bontempelli is still the best player in the AFL. That was the sentiment being expressed by fans and commentators on Friday night as Daicos and Bontempelli both produced masterful displays in the Western Bulldogs' win over Collingwood.

Daicos was outstanding for an injury-ravaged Collingwood side, producing 32 disposals, two goals and a club-record 16 clearances - breaking the previous mark of 15 set by Nathan Buckley in 1998. But Bontempelli took the game by the scruff of the neck in the fourth quarter to drag his side over the line.

The captain had 38 disposals, 10 clearances and two goals as the Bulldogs overcame an early 22-point deficit and steamrolled their opponents with five unanswered goals in the final quarter of the 15.10 (100) to 12.10 (82) victory at Marvel Stadium. Daicos might be the Brownlow Medal favourite, but Bontempelli showed why he's still widely regarded as the best player in the league.

Nick Daicos and Marcus Bontempelli.
Nick Daicos (L) and Marcus Bontempelli (R) were both superb, but it was the Western Bulldogs captain who got the chocolates. Image: Getty/AFL

"Collingwood have got a lot of injuries and we've got some, but under the circumstances it feels like more than just a win for us tonight," Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said. "We haven't really won games like this for a little while. We're all pretty satisfied tonight."

The win came at a cost for the Dogs, with James Harmes and Laitham Vandermeer added to a growing injury list with hamstring troubles. Sam Darcy also copped a two-game suspension for a nasty collision with Brayden Maynard.

The Magpies were brave in defeat considering their awful injury list. But coach Craig McRae refused to blame the situation for their first defeat since round two.

"I feel like we're not quite there (in terms of hardness) to play 120 minutes, this group in particular," McRae said. "There's a lot of good going on but we're not quite able to do it for four quarters at the minute for this group. We'll gain a lot out of this."

More than one-third of last year's premiership team is currently sidelined, with experienced stars Jordan De Goey and Scott Pendlebury on the injury list. "How do you measure that? I just look at what we can control," McRae said, adding the Pies were wasteful when they booted seven behinds in the opening term.

"If you want to break the game down, I thought the first quarter we dominated and we didn't take our chances. We could've been two or three more goals up than what we were."

Adam Treloar and Marcus Bontempelli during the Western Bulldogs' win over Collingwood.
Adam Treloar celebrates a goal with Marcus Bontempelli during the Western Bulldogs' win over Collingwood.


McRae felt the game got away as the Bulldogs took over, winning clearances (54-38) and inside-50s (64-41) despite the best efforts of Daicos. "They're the best clearance team that we've played against when you've got Bont (Marcus Bontempelli), (Tim) English and (Adam) Treloar," McRae said.

"They just accumulate and they wore us down. Maybe it was a bit too far with their talent in that part of the game late, but we'll get to work on some of those system things we can improve."

The talk of the AFL world during and after the game was Bontempelli's titanic battle with Daicos. The Collingwood young gun seemed to have his opponent's measure in the first half, before the Dogs captain stamped his authority with a masterclass performance.

with AAP