JAMES Harmes was set a task on Friday night: minimise the impact of Tom Liberatore.
And he did just that.
While the Western Bulldogs have stars left, right and centre in their midfield, Liberatore, who hasn’t always received the credit in 2021, leads the league in clearances – a stat the Demons couldn’t ignore.
“We had a few plans going in,” Harmes told Melbourne Media post-game.
“Bont (Marcus Bontempelli) and (Jack) Macrae – they like to get it on the outside, and Liberatore is more of an inside player.
While on paper it appears as though the Dogs had the better of the midfield battle – with seven of the top eight disposal winners and nine more clearances for the night – the result suggests otherwise.
The Dees had six scoring shots to one and were plus five inside 50s from centre bounces, sharing the workload and doing more damage with ball in hand.
As for Harmes’ performance, well, Liberatore was restricted to a season-low 16 disposals and four clearances, after averaging 27 and 11 respectively in the previous four matches.
So it was fairly successful.
But the 25-year-old has more tricks up his sleeve than your traditional midfield stopper.
While negating the opposition’s most threatening player, Harmes can do plenty of damage on the offensive end, booting the opening goal of the match on Friday night and amassing 23 disposals of his own.
“It was good fun," he said.
"He’s a funny man, Libba – he was having a chat to me out there.
“But it was good to have a tagging role again.
“It’s where I feel like I play my best footy and it was fun.
“I just try to put work into him at stoppage and then after that work off him and try to use my running power."