Western Bulldogs 0.1 0.1 2.4 2.4.16
Brisbane Lions 0.2 2.6 2.8 2.11.23
Brisbane Lions: McCarthy, Wuetschner
Western Bulldogs: Lambert 2
Alex Docherty's Best
Brisbane Lions: Zielke, Bates, Virgo, Stanton, Fredrick-Traub, Harris
Western Bulldogs: Kearney, Lambert, Blackburn, Spark, Scott, Ernst
The Brisbane Lions have now punched their ticket into the AFLW's inaugural Grand Final after grinding out a scrappy seven-point win in stifling conditions at the South Pine Sports Complex on Saturday morning. The win continues Brisbane's winning start to year, with six wins in six starts, and with that, have condemned the Bulldogs to their fifth straight loss and sitting dead-last on the ladder following Fremantle's maiden win in the AFLW against Carlton on Friday night.
For the Bulldogs' women, it was always going to be a tough task to beat the unbeaten Lions on their home ground. The Bulldogs struggled to get much going in the first half, only registering a point in the first thirty minutes.
They did well to keep Brisbane goal-less for the first quarter, but it looked as if the floodgates were about to open in the second when Jess Wuetschner goaled in the third minute. But the Dogs only allowed one more goal for the quarter and the match, when Kate McCarthy kicked her eighth goal of the season via a set-shot late in the second quarter to give Brisbane a 17-point advantage.
At this point of the game, Brisbane had ten fewer possessions than the Bulldogs, but were out-tackling the Dogs tackles 23-12, and doubled the Bulldogs' number of inside 50 entries 16-8. Their scoreline of 2.6 at half-time could've been much worse for the Bulldogs.
But the Bulldogs found a way to get back into the contest in the third quarter. They controlled most of the quarter and were rewarded with a two-goal quarter of their own, both of those courtesy of Jaimee Lambert, but squandered other opportunities to take the lead, but four-points behind the ladder-leaders at three-quarter time? You'd take that every day of the week.
But as the Dogs tried with all they could to snatch the lead off of the Lions, it was all for nothing as the Lions answered everything and anything that their opponents were trying to throw at them, denying them even a single score in the last quarter to run out the victors.
Leading The Way
Emma Kearney, take a bow. The priority pick made history on Saturday as she became the first female player to notch up 30 disposals in a game on Saturday when she amassed 30 touches for the Bulldogs. Melbourne marquee player Daisy Pearce was so close in reaching the milestone as she totalled 29 disposals against Carlton a couple of weeks ago.
The next possession-getter was Ellie Blackburn, who had 17 disposals, and unlike last week, where she starred up forward, she could only garner two behinds this weekend. Jaimee Lambert's two goals were badly needed in the third quarter, whilst Lauren Spark produced some awesome contested marks throughout the game, taking a team-high six marks to go with 12 disposals.
Six wins from six games, incredible when you think at the start of the year that nobody really rated the Lions. Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich has been nothing short of magnificent this season and his players have been equally as impressive. Emily Bates led all Lions' players in disposals with 17 touches, as well as six tackles and five marks, she had good support in the form of Emma Zielke (14 disposals, five tackles) and Jamie Stanton (12 disposals, three tackles).
Their backline was brilliant, Sam Virgo (12 disposals) continues her brilliant form, whilst Kate Lutkins, Tahlia Randall, Nicole Hildebrand and Leah Kaslar all played pivotal roles down back as well, whilst on the other end of the ground, the forwards were ever so dangerous. Tayla Harris and Sabrina Fredrick-Traub were taking a number of impressive grabs, but couldn't find the goals, whilst Kate McCarthy, their leading goal-scorer, could only kick one goal, taking her tally up to eight for the season.
Points To Take From The Game
1. As a player and a leader, Emma Zielke is criminally underrated. I feel that she despite her disposal average lower than many star midfielders, her toughness and her consistency is what I believe make her a seriously underrated player in this competition. Don't believe me yet? Zielke averages nearly six tackles a game which sits her in the competitions top-five tacklers.
2. Tayla Harris and Sabrina Fredrick-Traub are the best key-forward duo in the AFLW. Carlton might have Darcy Vescio leading the goal-kicking, but this duo are the most frightening. I said in my season preview that these two may take some time to develop, and whilst the number of goals they have kicked this year may look a little lower than what I had thought, their marking abilities wowed me a lot on the weekend, Fredrick-Traub in particular, given she was playing hurt.
3. Western Bulldogs coach Paul Groves would want to make next week's game their Grand Final. They're 1-5, sitting on a five-game losing streak, next weekend's game against GWS is arguably the most winnable game this side has had since they had Collingwood roll into the Whitten Oval. So much is at stake next week for the Western Bulldogs women, a win will ensure that the Bulldogs avoid the competition's first ever wooden spoon.
As just mentioned, the Bulldogs are at Manuka Oval next Saturday night to take on fellow strugglers Greater Western Sydney in a must-win game for the Daughters of the West. The Dogs sit in last position on the ladder and will want to avoid the dubious distinction of the AFLW's first wooden-spooner. Will next week be the week the Dogs break the streak?