Western Bulldogs 3.1 4.3 4.5 7.6.48
Carlton 2.2 5.3 7.6 8.6.54
Western Bulldogs: Blackburn 3, Lambert, Bailey, McDonald, Lochland
Carlton: Vescio 3, Ayre 2, Moody, Shierlaw, Audley
Alex Docherty's Best
Western Bulldogs: Blackburn, Lambert, Kearney, Lochland, Callinan, Lamb
Carlton: Vescio, Davey, Ayre, Lucas-Rodd, Gillespie-Jones, Hosking
They're calling it the highest-scoring game in the brief history of the AFL Women's competition, but I'm calling it a match of the season contender.
With a spot in the Grand Final still in the balance for the Blues, who were on the back of a two-game losing streak prior to Saturday, Carlton withstood an almighty fourth-quarter surge from a Western Bulldogs women's group that had nothing to lose and escaped Ikon Park six-point winners, taking the Blues to 3-2 for the season and a game behind a top-two spot.
The Bulldogs started the contest like they had nothing to lose, kicking three of the first four goals of the game, led by stand-in captain Ellie Blackburn for the third consecutive week, before the Blues began to take control of the game through marquee forward Darcy Vescio and up-start Bella Ayre for the next two quarters of footy.
The Bulldogs led by five points at quarter time, but would only kick 1.4 from that point until to the final break as opposed to Carlton's 5.4, as inconsistent goal-kicking, yet again, would threaten to kill off their chances of an upset win, but when Vescio slotted through her third goal of the day early in the last quarter, the Blues were up by 25 points and looked home, being the first team in the AFLW competition to log 50 points in a game.
But the Dogs weren't done with yet. With captain and star forward Katie Brennan not playing for the third-straight week as she continues to recover from an ankle injury, they found numerous options to goal in Laura Bailey, Brooke Lochland and Meg McDonald to peg the deficit back to a solitary kick. But the Blues, under enormous pressure, held on to record a thrilling victory in front of just under 7000 spectators.
The win leapfrogs Carlton to third spot on the AFLW ladder, following Melbourne's shock loss to GWS on Friday night and only sit a game behind Adelaide with two games to go in the AFLW season before the top two teams play off in the first-ever AFLW Grand Final. But as impressive as the Dogs were on this day, this marks their fourth-successive loss and has them in seventh spot on the ladder, just two premiership points clear of winless Fremantle.
Leading The Way
The usual suspects. Ellie Blackburn was perhaps the Bulldogs' most influential player on the ground. She started the game down forward and the move payed massive dividends, as she kicked three goals before half-time. She finished with 16 disposals and four tackles as well, as she was moved up the ground to help her team in the second half, while her partner-in-crime Emma Kearney had a game-high 18 disposals and six marks and was in the thick of it as usual.
Jaimee Lambert saw a lot of time in the midfield, which saw her record 16 disposals, five tackles and also kicked a very nice goal in the first term in her best game so far this season, whilst Nicole Callinan (16 disposals, four marks, three tackles), Brooke Lochland (10 disposals, five marks, five tackles and a goal) and Kirsty Lamb (13 disposals, four tackles) all played solid games.
Darcy Vescio stamped her name as the AFLW's most dangerous forward and kicked three goals from five disposals despite the close attention from the Bulldogs' Hannah Scott. This adds to her already impressive tally, which stands at 11 goals for the season. The next best goal-kicker is Brisbane's Kate McCarthy who has seven. Another forward that impressed was Bella Ayre, who backed up her impressive game last week with another two-goal performance, but could've easily have been more.
Marquee player Brianna Davey was a late inclusion after missing the last two weeks with a back injury, and after a slow start, got heavily involved in the second half and played a huge part in Carlton's win, taking a few intercept marks and getting her hands on the ball, finishing with 16 disposals and three marks. Also among Carlton's better players were Tilly Lucas-Rodd (17 disposals, six marks), Kate Gillespie-Jones (13 disposals, three marks, three tackles) and Sarah Hosking (13 disposals, four marks).
Points To Take From The Game
1. It is possible to score 50 points in an AFLW game. Over the first month of the AFLW competition, teams have found it no issue to register 40 points in a match, with teams getting to the 40-point milestone nine times before Carlton finally broke through to become the first team to reach 50 points in a game, proving to those that it is possible. Don't be too shocked to see teams get to 50 points a few more times before the conclusion of this season.
2. Brianna Davey is the key to Carlton's premiership aspirations. She went down with injury late in Carlton's round three loss to Adelaide and missed last week's game against Melbourne, which also resulted in a loss to the Blues. Her stats will say she is a star, averaging 21 disposals, three marks and three tackles a game, but her ability to play midfield and intercept mark is crucial for the Blues going forward in this final fortnight.
3. Ellie Blackburn has to play forward more often. We already knew she had the capacity to go down forward and kick a goal or two, but she's proven that she can be that go-to forward that good football sides need. She started forward and had three goals up to half time and proved to be more than a handful in that time. If Katie Brennan isn't back before the end of the season, then I would love to see Blackburn spend more time in the attacking 50 and give the Dogs a target to kick to.
Sitting at 1-4 now, the Bulldogs are on the road to take on the undefeated Brisbane Lions in Queensland next Saturday afternoon. The Lions, who have already got a foot in the door of a spot in the AFLW Grand Final have been super-impressive all throughout this competition, and the Dogs will have an uphill battle to break their losing run next weekend.