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AS HARRY McKay jumped into the lead of the Coleman Medal last week, the hulking Carlton key forward also highlighted the chink in the Western Bulldogs' premiership armour.

And Port Adelaide will be hoping power forward Charlie Dixon can do the same in Saturday night's clash between the premiership contenders at Adelaide Oval.  

McKay booted four goals against the Dogs, who ran over the top of the Blues in the final term to record an excellent comeback win. The 23-year-old already has and will continue to dominate teams in the air, but it did expose a weak spot that could slow the Dogs' flag pursuit.

The Dogs' lack of giant-stopping key defenders has been seen across this season.

The week before McKay's impressive outing, it was Tom Lynch who turned the game Richmond's way in round seven with three goals to inflict the Dogs' first defeat of 2021.

Richmond's Tom Lynch and Western Bulldog Alex Keath grapple in round seven, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

In round five, Gold Coast's pair of marking targets Ben King (two goals) and Josh Corbett (three) performed well, while in round two it was Eagles trio Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and Oscar Allen who nearly took the win away from the Dogs at Marvel Stadium.

West Coast's three tall forwards combined for nine goals under the roof in an epic encounter.

The Bulldogs have attacked that list deficiency in previous off-seasons, targeting and obtaining Alex Keath from Adelaide at the end of 2019 and last year trying to lure contracted tall defender Jack Payne out of Brisbane. It is expected they will again scour the market for key backs in this year's trade and free agency market.

Injuries have made Keath's task more difficult, with tall back Ryan Gardner's shoulder injury sidelining him since round three and Bailey Williams, who has been deployed as the Dogs' third tall backman, missing the past three weeks with a fractured collarbone.

Bailey Williams gets a handball away against Melbourne in the 2021 AAMI Community Series. Picture: AFL Photos

It has seen the Dogs turn to 2016 premiership player Zaine Cordy, who had started the season in the VFL, in the past three weeks.

He was part of a defensive unit that held the Giants' key forwards to just one goal in round six – which came through Harry Himmelberg – although Toby Greene, considered as a 'small full forward' in the way he leads and marks, booted four.

The Bulldogs' star-studded midfield has steamrolled sides this season but their key defence will be pivotal in the battle with the Power on Saturday night.

Charlie Dixon was excellent early last week against Adelaide but has been kept goalless against top-eight sides so far this season, while Todd Marshall also ended a lean streak of goals with three majors in the Showdown clash.

KEY FORWARDS' GOALS AGAINST THE BULLDOGS IN 2021

Round 1 v Collingwood
Brody Mihocek 2 (on Keath) 
Mason Cox 2 (1 on Williams, 1 on Dale) 

Round 2 v West Coast
Josh Kennedy 4 (1 on Williams, 2 on Gardner, 1 on Scott) 
Jack Darling 3 (2 on Keath, 1 on Gardner) 
Oscar Allen 2 (1 on Gardiner, 1 on Duryea)  

Round 3 v North Melbourne
Nick Larkey 1 (on Keath) 

Round 4 v Brisbane
Eric Hipwood 2 (on Young)
Joe Daniher 1 (on Keath)

Round 5 v Gold Coast
Josh Corbett 3 (2 on Wood, 1 on Crozier)
Ben King 2 (on Keath)

Round 6 v GWS
Harry Himmelberg 1 (on Cordy)

Round 7 v Richmond
Tom Lynch 3 (on Cordy)
Jack Riewoldt 1 (on Keath)

Round 8 v Carlton
Harry McKay 4 (on Keath)