Fremantle fans react after Rory Lobb missed a goal during round six, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

THE WESTERN Bulldogs were prepared for Fremantle's physical welcome to former Docker Rory Lobb and maintained their discipline, with coach Luke Beveridge proud of his team's ability to prevail in a hostile environment on Friday night.

Lobb was targeted by Dockers captain Alex Pearce before the opening bounce and found himself in more scuffles through the night, with the 30-year-old also booed relentlessly by the home crowd after his messy exit last year.

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Beveridge said Lobb, who played his part in the win with six marks and a goal, had been looking forward to the occasion and handled the extra focus well.  


"It's interesting, isn't it. Former teammates and maybe it's to get us offside. We expected it," Beveridge said after the important 49-point win.  

"I think our guys were disciplined and flew the flag as you would. I don't think anything untoward eventuated but it's a cauldron out there and when you're the centre of the physical focus, it's not always easy.  

"So I thought he handled that really well and played the game out accordingly."


Fremantle's focus on Lobb was most evident in the third quarter. A handful of Dockers were then wrestling with Lobb in the Bulldogs' forward 50 when a mis-kicked set shot from Jamarra Ugle-Hagan landed unexpectedly for Adam Treloar, who had space to snap a goal.  

It was a key moment after the Dockers had threatened, but Dockers coach Justin Longmuir did not believe his players had lost focus because of the extra attention they gave Lobb.

The coach said there was no directive to give Lobb more physical attention and putting the result down to that byplay would be giving his players an 'out'.


"I don't think that was the difference in the game at all," Longmuir said. 

"They're really isolated incidents, even before the siren. So I don't think we took it over the top, and I'd be giving our players a massive out if I walked in there and told them that was the issue.

"It was much more widespread than having too much focus on Lobby. I thought it was a method thing."


Longmuir conceded the Dockers were lacking a "mature key forward that can take the best defender" after key target Matt Taberner went in for back surgery on Friday, which will likely sideline him until late in the season.

The Dockers took eight marks inside 50 to the Bulldogs' 16, with Luke Jackson and Jye Amiss kicking one goal each, and Sam Sturt booting two.

 "Luke Jackson is still finding his way, Jye (Amiss) is still finding his way," the coach said.

"It would be nice, but you deal with what you've got. We hope Tabs can get back to his best and give us something at the back end of the year." 

While the Dockers were taught "a bit of a lesson from a more experienced midfield", the Bulldogs were left to marvel at their captain Marcus Bontempelli, who was best afield with 31 disposals, eight clearances and two goals.


The gun midfielder will play his 200th match when the Bulldogs take on Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium next Saturday, with Beveridge praising the premiership star's impact.

"It's a little bit of an emotion over the last couple of weeks and there'll be more as we go into the Hawthorn game," the coach said after also celebrating Tom Liberatore's 200th game last week, and Toby McLean's 100th on Friday night.

"He's having a good year. Definitely. I think our midfield really pulled it together tonight and Marcus has been an influential player week to week.

"But he's enormous. Again, I felt that's tonight and what he did out there, we’ll celebrate a diamond.

"The number four he's worn unbelievably well and hopefully we can get a win for next week."

Beveridge said Liberatore and Jason Johannisen would be assessed for respective head knocks that were suffered late in the game, but neither had undergone tests yet to determine if there were concussion symptoms.