AFL Rd 4 - Western Bulldogs v Brisbane
BALLARAT, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 10: Bailey Smith of the Bulldogs in action during the 2021 AFL Round 04 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Brisbane Lions at Mars Stadium on April 10, 2021 in Ballarat, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The man with the trademark long locks has put age to one side and is playing inspired finals football.

Bulldog Bailey Smith's September stocks have sky-rocketed this season, adding plenty to Luke Beveridge's attack as they conjure an unlikely push for a premiership.

Smith joined the Dogs from the Sandringham Dragons - where he first learnt his craft. The 20-year-old was taken with the 7th overall selection in the 2018 National Draft, venturing to Whitten Oval as their midfielder for the future.

The Xavier College graduate has gone to a new level in 2021 after two solid seasons previously in the league. His most improved attribute this year is his goal-kicking.

After booting just six majors in 2020, Smith has bettered his scoreboard presence, kicking 17 goals this season after being thrust into a more attacking-orientated role.

Smith is surrounded by the best midfield in the competition, an ensemble that boasts many seasoned stars. But the classy onballer has pushed some of those players out the middle and made it his own in the latter-end of this year.

He has beaten out star recruit Adam Treloar for midfield minutes, forcing the former Magpie to half-forward. A fair feat for such a young player.

AFL Rd 1 - Collingwood v Western Bulldogs
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: Adam Treloar of the Bulldogs and Jordan De Goey of the Magpies embrace after the final siren during the 2021 AFL Round 01 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Western Bulldogs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 19, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

His seven goals in the last two finals games for the Dogs have made him a person of interest for grand finalists Melbourne. The Demons will look to negate his explosiveness from stoppages and prevent the midfielder from having uncontested touches close to goal.

Having not had the same impact before, Smith is beginning to make the most of his chances when moving forward.

The overall midfield battle come Grand Final Day will interesting viewing. The Demons have a hard contested style of play, whilst the Dogs enjoy using the entirety of the ground to move the ball with speed and width.

The winners on the day might be the team that can stop the opposition's key playmakers from having an undue effect on the game. The team that defends better may have the upper hand when the finals blowtorch is ignited.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 06: Bailey Smith of the Bulldogs kicks during the round 16 AFL match between the Western Bulldogs and the West Coast Eagles at Metricon Stadium on September 06, 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The Dogs have a brigade of hard-running players who aim to pressure the ball carrier immensely. Smith leads the charge in this sense and will be looking to implement pressure on his Melbourne counterparts.

Having put together a sensational September record this year, Smith is sure to be on his game again come Saturday.