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LEWIS Young wasn't even supposed to play on Friday night.

The Western Bulldogs wanted to stretch North Melbourne's Robbie Tarrant-less defence with Aaron Naughton but a fresh knee injury thwarted their immediate plans – and maybe beyond that.

Naughton's withdrawal meant 197cm Young, who struggled for opportunities the past two years after a bright debut season, was thrust into action in the club's Marsh Community Series opener.

06:49 Mins
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Marsh Highlights: Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne

The Bulldogs and Kangaroos clash in the Marsh Community Series

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The night belonged to Marcus Bontempelli, who stuffed the stat sheet at Marvel Stadium with 37 disposals (17 contested), 10 clearances, 11 inside 50s and two goals in a best-on-ground performance.

Bontempelli was so impressive he might be the Brownlow Medal favourite by the start of the weekend.

00:34 Mins
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Marsh: New skipper does it for the Dogs

The Bont kicks a goal to seal the match for the Bulldogs

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However, it's 21-year-old swingman Young who might have given his coach Luke Beveridge something to ponder.

DOGS THUMP ROOS Full match coverage

The Bulldogs were the stronger team on paper, and put the Roos to the sword with the first three goals of the second half to eventually triumph 15.11 (101) to 9.3 (57).

Young put his side on the path to victory with two goals in the opening quarter and three to half-time – all after marks, two courtesy of slick Bontempelli passes – in a surprise star showing.

00:49 Mins
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Marsh: Young gun makes a fast start

Lewis Young dominates early with two quick goals for the Bulldogs

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His best football to date has been in defence but Alex Keath's arrival from Adelaide means it won't be any easier for him to break in.

Young partnered Josh Schache in a two-tall attack and they both had their moments against a North backline that is still a work in progress without Tarrant (foot).

00:51 Mins
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Marsh: Josh Schache takes advantage of strong Bulldogs team play

The Bulldogs finish off a strong quarter with an excellent team goal

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If Naughton is unable to recover in time for the opening round then Young has, at worst, put himself in the frame.

The Dogs' glamour onball brigade almost all fired, with Lachie Hunter (30 possessions), Jack Macrae (31) and Josh Dunkley (23), like Bontempelli, winning a mountain of the Sherrin.

R1 DOUBT High-flying Dog racing the clock to be fit for season opener

They benefited from the Roos' lengthy list of absentees, including Shaun HigginsJack Ziebell (calf), Jared Polec (foot), Luke Davies-Uniacke (groin), Ben Brown (calf), Aaron Hall (back spasms) and Ben Jacobs (concussion-related symptoms).

Fourth-year bull Jy Simpkin stood up with many of his more heralded midfield mates watching on, while Aiden Bonar and the hugely talented Tarryn Thomas received minutes in the centre, too.

00:41 Mins
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Marsh: A little bit of magic from rising Roos star

Tarryn Thomas shows his slick skills to kick an early goal for the Roos

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Majak Daw made his triumphant return from serious hip and pelvic injuries as he works towards playing in round one, while fellow defenders Sam Durdin and Josh Walker also put their hands up.

Majak Daw had a quiet return to the field. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Walker, who spent time at Geelong and Brisbane, was the best of that trio on Friday night, clutching 10 marks – many of them intercepts – and holding his own on several opponents.

The biggest concern for the Roos centres on Marley Williams, who seems certain to come under scrutiny from Match Review Officer Michael Christian for a high hit on Ed Richards.

Richards (concussion) left the ground after the second-quarter incident and did not return.

00:48 Mins
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Marsh: Is Kangaroos defender in trouble for this bump?

Marley Williams could face scrutiny after laying a heavy hit on Ed Richards

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LIST RATINGS Roos' shock rise, Dogs tipped to shine

Western Bulldogs: Alex Keath was the sole off-season addition to set foot on Marvel Stadium on Friday night. The former Crows defender always loomed as a wonderful fit at the Kennel and he thrived with his intercept marking against the Roos. Spent a chunk of the night playing as the spare man down back.

North Melbourne: Ex-Giant Aiden Bonar started on the bench and went straight to the centre, where he capitalised on the extra opportunity afforded with a number of star Kangaroos out. Used his big body well at times to accumulate 15 possessions, eight tackles and three clearances. Josh Walker is fighting for a key defensive spot and did his hopes no harm with a good job on various opponents, to go with 10 marks. It was a quiet night for draftee Jack Mahony but he's shown promise this pre-season.

00:40 Mins
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Marsh: Kangaroo takes the first big screamer of the year

Curtis Taylor takes a massive mark in the third term

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Aiden Bonar (MID/FWD, $333,000) crossed from Greater Western Sydney to Arden St in a deadline-day trade on the hunt for more opportunity. He had plenty of time in the centre in the Roos' intraclub game and again in Friday night's clash, winning 10 of his 15 disposals in the first half. 

Jordon Sweet (RUCK, $170,000) is Tim English's ruck understudy, so bear that in mind, but in the West Australian young gun's absence the North Adelaide product performed admirably against Todd Goldstein.

02:49 Mins
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Marsh Series Fantasy watchlist

Calvin names fives players he's keeping an eye on over the Marsh Community Series

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The Bulldogs' second Marsh Community Series game is on Saturday, March 7 against Port Adelaide at South Australia's Bennett Oval, Whyalla. North has scheduled a practice game against Melbourne at Arden St next Friday, before resuming in the Marsh Series against Sydney on Monday, March 9 in Hobart.

PRE-SEASON FIXTURE Check out your team's Marsh Community Series games

WESTERN BULLDOGS     4.4       7.7       11.10   15.11 (101)
NORTH MELBOURNE     4.0       5.1       7.2       9.3 (57)

Western Bulldogs: Young 3, Lloyd 3, Schache 2, Bontempelli 2, Dickson, Dale, Wallis, Hunter, McLean
North Melbourne: Larkey 2, Xerri 2, Goldstein, Thomas, Anderson, Taylor, Garner

Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Hunter, Macrae, Young, Crozier, Dunkley
North Melbourne: Cunnington, Simpkin, Walker, Anderson, Thomas, Dumont

Western Bulldogs: Naughton (knee), replaced in selected side by Lewis Young, Richards (concussion)
North Melbourne: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Meredith, Lewis, Simmonds

Official crowd: 5465 at Marvel Stadium