AFL Grand Final news; Western Bulldogs







Melbourne captain Max Gawn’s preliminary final performance was so stunning, the Western Bulldogs have put extra time in to stopping him in the AFL Grand Final.

Stopping superstar Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn in Saturday’s AFL Grand Final will start with the “crucial” work of his Western Bulldogs counterpart Stefan Martin.

But Bulldogs winger Lachie Hunter said truly curbing the five-time All-Australian’s influence on the decider could come down to the rest of the midfield group making every physical effort they can, to make Gawn “exert as much energy” as possible.

Melbourne scored a whopping 101 points from stoppages in their preliminary final thumping of Geelong, the fourth-most ever, with Gawn the source for most scoring chains, as well as kicking five goals himself in an epic performance.

The way Gawn helped the Demons move the ball “out the front” at stoppages was a key take-out from the Bulldogs review of the game.

Hunter said it reinforced the significance of the effort required to stop Gawn if the Bulldogs are to win on Saturday.

“They had about 16 stoppage goals; they came out the front a lot, ”Hunter said on Wednesday.

“Even when you do lose the centre bounce, if you are able to force them back or wide, then that clearance doesn’t land at the top of the goal square. It’s lot easier to defend.

“Max Gawn grabbed it out of the ruck a few times, which neutralises all the midfielders and gets it going their way. As much as we can stop that, it would be good.”

While he’s a force at stoppages, Gawn has become elite at “covering the ground”. His 56 contested marks is the third most in the AFL this season.

Stopping him from moving away from contests post-clearance looms as a key part of the Bulldogs’ plan.

That means players putting their bodies on the line against the 208cm giant.

“He gets in some really good positions around the ground,” Hunter said.

“If you can nullify him at the stoppage and get in his way there and stop it right as he’s trying to start, that gives you the best chance of stopping him around the ground.”

“I am sure teams have tried lots of different things on him in the past … being physical is one of those. You can’t just allow him to have a free run over the ground.

“You have to make him exert every bit of energy at every chance, that can limit his influence at times.”

Hunter said getting extra physical with Gawn, to rough him up, was “an option”, but not one the Bulldogs had discussed at length yet.

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