AFL 1 year ago

Falling: Dogs' Ladies Fall Short Against The Pies, Fall Further Away From Finals Contention

  • Falling: Dogs' Ladies Fall Short Against The Pies, Fall Further Away From Finals Contention

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 25: Ellie Blackburn of the Bulldogs looks dejected after a loss during the 2017 AFLW Round 04 match between the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood Magpies at VU Whitten Oval on February 25, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Western Bulldogs       0.2    1.4     1.4    3.7.25
Collingwood                 1.1    1.1     5.2    5.2.32


Western Bulldogs: Lamb 2, Blackburn
Collingwood: Garner 2, Hope, D'Arcy, Eva

Alex Docherty's Best

Western Bulldogs: Blackburn, Lamb, Callinan, Lochland, Kearney
Collingwood: Eva, Garner, Hutchins, King, Cameron, Stevens

Four weeks into the AFLW season and the Collingwood Football Club has their first win of the season, and in doing so, have essentially crushed any remaining aspirations of that maiden Grand Final berth that the Western Bulldogs' women's team had in the prelude to this encounter. Just under 7000 spectators witnessed history for the Collingwood ladies, as they brilliantly held off a spirited Bulldogs' fightback.

The first half saw a very scrappy, yet physical affair as both sides had moments throughout, but both side could only manage one goal apiece by the long break. Collingwood spearhead Moana Hope got involved early after being in the hot-seat through the week by the media, kicking the opening goal of the match and missing a golden opportunity to make it two goals before quarter time.

Despite Collingwood leading at the quarter-time break, it was the Bulldogs who had controlled most of the play in the opening half. They had 10 inside 50s to one in the second quarter and had the ball down their scoring end for the most part of that term. But for all of that hard work, they only got one major out of it, through a free-kick to Kirsty Lamb a couple of minutes into the second term that got the Dogs the lead. 

The Dogs held onto that lead into half time, but not before a moment of heartbreak for the Collingwood rookie on debut Kate Sheahan. The daughter of legendary AFL journalist Mike, hadn't even had a minute on the ground yet, but had the ball at half-back and changed direction in an attempt to evade a tackler before falling to the ground and clutching her knee and then was helped off the ground by the trainers in what some are already fearing as another ruptured ACL injury. The Dogs also had injury problems of their own as livewire forward Kirsten McLeod suffered a knock on the head in that same quarter and didn't return to the game, which proved to be another blow in the Bulldogs' forward structure.

With the wind behind them in the third quarter, the Pies dominated the term, not allowing their opposition an inside 50 entry, let alone a solitary score and made the Bulldog ladies pay for their missed chances in the second quarter with a four-goal burst that set them up with a 22-point lead in the last break. But with the wind favouring the Dogs in the last quarter, we were primed for a interesting and possibly exciting finish. 

With the Grand Final aspirations on the line, Eliie Blackburn got the comeback rolling just thirty seconds in with a brilliant running goal, to trim the margin back to 16 points, but as it's so often been the case so far this season, inaccuracy proved to be costly for the Bulldogs as Blackburn missed a chance to kick two goals for the term, as well as sprayed shots by Hayley Wildes and Jaimee Lambert. Lamb popped up for her second of the match halfway through the quarter to make it a seven-point deficit, but from there, the Pies slowed the game down and held on for a memorable first win.

Leading The Way

With their captain Katie Brennan a late scratching due to her ankle complaints flaring up, it was stand-in captain Ellie Blackburn who was perhaps the Bulldogs' most influential player on the ground on Saturday night. She put up a game-high 19 disposals and was at her dangerous best when she pushed forward, but could only score a goal for her troubles. Her partner in crime in the midfield in Emma Kearney didn't get as many possessions as she did in recent weeks, but was still solid with 13 touches.

Unlike last week, the dynamic duo got very good support in the form of Nicole Callinan and Brooke Lochland, both ladies had 11 disposals each and combined for 10 tackles, whilst Kirsty Lamb had one of her best games in Bulldogs' colours, kicking two goals and had 14 disposals and seven tackles.

The Opposition

Marquee forward Moana Hope was mentioned earlier about being under intense pressure by the media for her underperformance, but despite kicking the opening goal and looking a menacing presence up forward, she was well held after quarter time with debutant Lauren Moorecroft matching up on her for most of the evening.

As far as who starred for the Magpies, Alicia Eva, and Jasmine Garner  were perhaps the most influential for the black and whites. Eva had a team-high 14 disposals and eight tackles for the night and snagged an important goal mid-way through the third quarter, whilst forward Garner also kicked two vital goals late in the third quarter en route to 11 disposals for the match.

Others that played well for the Pies include Meg Hutchins and Nicola Stevens, who were key parts in a Collingwood defence that kept the Bulldogs to only three goals and kept them to only one goal for the first half when they had most of the momentum, Jess Cameron who was solid across half-forward with 11 disposals, five marks and six tackles and marquee ruck Emma King who amassed nearly 40 hitouts for the match.

Points To Take From This Game

1. Emma King is arguably AFLW's premier ruckwoman. Over the past fortnight, she's recorded 65 hitouts, and on Saturday night, she was at it again with a 39-hitout performance and so far, no other players are matching her stats. Whether she's shouldering more ruck duties or not is questionable, but it's hard to argue who's better than her right now.

2. Is it time for Paul Groves to trial his players in different positions? With three losses in a row now and essentially out of the running for a spot in the Grand Final, an interesting week looms ahead for Bulldogs' coach Paul Groves. Does he stick to what he's been doing since the start of the season, or will he opt to try something different against Carlton next weekend?

3. The Bulldogs are missing the presence of Katie Brennan on the field. The Dogs would've loved to have their talented captain on the park for this match. We'll never truly know what she could've done, but I really believe she could've made a huge contribution to this team and help them over the line on Saturday night, but the club did the right thing by not playing her and putting her ankle at the risk of re-injuring it.

Next Week

The Bulldogs are travelling to Ikon Park in Carlton as they play away to the Blues at the very odd time-slot of 11:35am. This game is the curtain-raiser to the pre-season match between Carlton and St. Kilda, to be played in the afternoon.

This is a must-win encounter for the home side after losing two matches in succession to Adelaide and Melbourne, but for the Bulldogs, they will just be out to break a losing streak of their own, and with finals now out of the question, there is no doubt that the 'Daughters of the West' will be going out their with a 'nothing to lose' mentality.

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