The Western Bulldogs' women's team are back on deck at the Whitten Oval for the final time in season 2017 - this time hosting the winless Collingwood ladies in a match where they should head into this contest as the warm favourites. After two losses on the trot, the Bulldogs need to go back on the winners list to stay in calculations for a spot in the AFLW Grand Final.
They weren't awful last week against Melbourne, but they were outclassed in the second quarter, and played catch-up footy after half-time. They can't afford the same thing to happen on Saturday night against a side that virtually has nothing left to lose.
Sitting with three losses in three games, Collingwood are essentially out of finals contention now. They were dismantled by Carlton on the opening night of the competition, they were held scoreless by Melbourne in the second half of their round two encounter and were pipped by Brisbane in Brisbane last week in what was arguably a much-improved performance in comparison to round one.
A lot of people spoke about how dangerous Collingwood's women's team in the pre-season, but with the exception of one or two names, they've hardly fired a shot so far in this competition. Saturday night looms as a big night for the Collingwood faithful as they search for their maiden win in the AFLW competition
IN: Katie Brennan, Lauren Moorecroft, Meg McDonald
OUT: Courtney Clarkson, Jess Gardner, Rebecca Neaves (All Omitted)
B: Kirsty Lamb, Hannah Scott, Bailey Hunt
HB: Lisa Williams, Aasta O'Connor, Hayley Wildes
C: Jaimee Lambert
HF: Nicole Callinan, Katie Brennan, Brooke Lochland
F: Kirsten McLeod, Ellyse Gamble, Kate Tyndall
FOL: Lauren Spark, Emma Kearney, Ellie Blackburn
INT: Kim Ebb, Libby Birch, Angelica Gogos, Meg McDonald, Lauren Moorecroft, Tiarna Ernst
EMG: Laura Bailey, Courtney Clarkson
The Dogs have named three changes to the side that lost to Melbourne by 14 points last Saturday night, naming their captain Katie Brennan back into the team after she was missed last week with an ankle injury, as well as two debutants in defender Lauren Moorecroft and the versatile Meg McDonald. Making way for the trio is Courtney Clarkson, Jess Gardner and Rebecca Neaves.
Moorecroft was taken by the Bulldogs with the 101st overall selection in the AFLW draft, but plays has the capabilities to play as a shut-down key defender, whilst McDonald was picked up as a free agent and can play nearly every position, but her best work is down forward, where she played a part of Darebin's 2016 VWFL premiership team.
B: Cecilia McIntosh, Stacey Livingstone, Caitlyn Edwards
HB: Steph Chiocci, Nicola Stevens, Meg Hutchins
C: Amelia Barden
HF: Alicia Eva, Sarah D'Arcy, Jess Cameron
F: Emma Grant, Moana Hope, Jasmine Garner
FOL: Emma King, Lauren Tesoriero, Bree White
INT: Tara Morgan, Melissa Kuys, Georgia Walker, Ruby Schleicher, Brittany Bonnici, Christina Bernardi
EMG: Penny Cula-Reid, Kate Sheahan
Collingwood coach Wayne Siekman was said to be very proud of his players, despite losing to an undefeated Brisbane team in scorching conditions. The Pies go into Saturday night's encounter with an unchanged line-up, but Bulldogs fans will remember a few of the names that represented the red, white and blue in the women's exhibition games over the years.
Collingwood captain Steph Chiocci was the Bulldogs' first draft pick back in 2013 when both Melbourne and the Dogs drafted teams for the first ever exhibition game and since that first game, names like Emma King, Meg Hutchins, Nicola Stevens and more notably Moana Hope have starred for the Bulldogs over the years.
Players To Watch
The dynamic midfielder returned to the team last weekend after resting the previous week, but only registered the two possessions in the loss, after playing a solid role in the Doggies' round one win over the Dockers. After witnessing last week, Ellie Blackburn and Emma Kearney need some assistance if the Dogs are to win games. Lambert needs to step up this weekend.
I've enjoyed watching this lady progress week by week, and has had a lot of good moments so far this season. She's proven she can take a good contested grab, she can roll into the backline and do a sterling job and can run around in the ruck. If she does start in the ruck on Saturday night, it'll be interesting to see how she goes against one of women's footy's top rucks in Emma King.
Without a shadow of a doubt one of Collingwood's most important players and arguably, one of women's football's greatest forwards today. Unfortunately she hasn't been able to get out of the gates so far this year, only registering one goal in three matches. The Dogs must continue the trend of blanketing her influence of the game so far this year, and I expect the double-teaming and triple-teaming on the talented forward to continue, but if she does find a way to get going - watch out.
Another former Bulldog that has donned the black and white for this season, Chiocci hasn't exactly starred for the Pies this season in a statistical point of view. Like quite a few of her team mates, she has struggled to get her hands on the ball, only averaging just over nine disposals a match in the three games the Pies have played this season. If there was a moment for her to turn her season around, it should be Saturday night.
On paper, the Dogs should be back on the winners list with a resounding win, but after the last fortnight, I'm quite uncertain with how it'll pan out. Having watched the Pies last week, they have significantly improved since they were rolled round one and will fancy themselves to knock off the Bulldogs on their home turf.
Every game matters now for the Bulldogs. They are two wins behind the ladder-leading Adelaide and Brisbane with four games to go, including this one. If Katie Brennan can make an influence on this game, it should be a win to the Western Bulldogs and a badly-needed one at that.
Western Bulldogs By 9 points
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