AFL 1 year ago

Bulldogs Vs Giants AFLW Preview

  • Bulldogs Vs Giants AFLW Preview

    BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 11: Ellie Blackburn of the Bulldogs leads the Bulldogs out for the round six AFL Women's match between the Brisbane Lions and the Western Bulldogs at South Pine Sports Complex on March 11, 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/AFL Media/Getty Images)

It's the final round of the AFLW season, and whilst it still remains who will challenge the Brisbane Lions for this year's premiership, two teams that won't be in the frame for a Grand Final berth will be both the GWS Giants and the Western Bulldogs - both teams will square off on Saturday night at Manuka Oval.

Don't think for a second that this contest will be a meaningless, dead-rubber game, because it won't be. The loser of this game will most likely take home the league's first-ever wooden spoon. Both sides occupy the last two positions on the ladder, and you can imagine both coaches will have revved up their respective teams for this game.

For the Giants, many have expected them to struggle throughout the season as they've lacked the star talent that the other sides have. It hasn't helped that they didn't have one of their marquee players in Renee Forth for the entire season with an ACL injury, but there's more to a team than just one marquee player.

The Giants have struggled to put wins on the board regardless. But as the season went on, the Giants showed signs of improvement and they even managed to upset Melbourne and destroyed their chances of playing off in the AFLW Grand Final.

As for the Bulldogs, they've been one of the real disappointments of this season. Discussed amongst footy experts and journalists as one of the red-hot favourites in the pre-season, the Bulldogs won their opening-round game against Fremantle quite convincingly, but from there have really struggled to put in consistent, four-quarter performances and as a result, face a five-game losing streak and last place on the AFLW. 

In patches, they've actually displayed some quality football over the past five weeks, led by Emma Kearney and Ellie Blackburn, but from there, the Dogs have had little support surrounding the star duo. The injury to captain Katie Brennan - who hasn't played since round two - has hurt them significantly, but have shown they can play decent footy without her in the team, so it really shouldn't be used as an excuse.

Saturday night will be a massive contest that Bulldog fans and GWS fans should get behind, this will be an entertaining game played with finals-like intensity.

The Teams

Western Bulldogs

IN: Lisa Williams
OUT: Kimberley Ebb (Injured)

B: Kate Tyndall, Meg McDonald, Libby Birch
HB: Hayley Wildes, Bailey Hunt, Nicole Callinan
C: Brooke Lochland
HF: Jaimee Lambert, Ellyse Gamble, Hannah Scott
F: Kirsty Lamb, Courtney Clarkson, Kirsten McLeod
FOL: Lauren Spark, Ellie Blackburn, Emma Kearney
INT: Rebecca Neaves, Laura Bailey, Angelica Gogos, Lisa Williams, Tiarna Ernst, Jess Gardner
EMG: Lauren Morecroft, Romy Timmins

Only the one change to the Bulldogs women's team sees Lisa Williams coming back into the team for Kim Ebb, who left last week's match with the Brisbane Lions carrying an injury complaint. 

The Bulldogs' form hasn't been as bad as what their record suggests. Yes they sit at 1-5, but have had quarters of footy which has shown that they're capable of matching with the best.

Last week they gave the unbeaten Brisbane Lions a run for their money, particularly in the third quarter, when they came from 17 points down at half time to make the margin less than a kick and their last quarter against Carlton a couple of weeks ago where the came from 25 points down early in the term to almost pinch it from the Blues. Inconsistency has plagued the Bulldog ladies more often than not this season, but coach Paul Groves will hope this is the one game that they can string a four-quarter performance together.

GWS Giants

IN: Alex Saundry, Izzy Rudolph
OUT: Kristy De Pellegrini, Codie Briggs

B: Emma Swanson, Hannah Wallett, Clare Lawton
HB: Amanda Farrugia, Jess Dal Pos, Alex Williams
C: Louise Stephenson
HF: Rebecca Beeson, Phoebe McWilliams, Aimee Schmidt
F: Jacinda Barclay, Alex Saundry, Ashleigh Guest
FOL: Renee Tomkins, Britt Tully, Maddy Collier
INT: Nicola Barr, Ella Ross, Erin McKinnon, Jess Bibby, Izzy Rudolph, Ellie Brush
EMG: Kate Stanton, Steph Walker

GWS have made two changes to the team that lost to Collingwood last weekend, with coach Tim Schmidt opting to axe Kristy De Pellegrini and Codie Briggs and naming Alex Saundry for her first game since the Giants' round four defeat to Brisbane and Izzy Rudolph who will make her debut on Saturday night.

Rudolph - a 21-year old from Sydney University, has a good skill set and has had a creative knack for goals in recent seasons. Last April, she suffered a serious knee injury in an exhibition match that threatened to stop her from playing in the first-ever AFLW season. This game will mean so much coming from her.

Players To Watch

Western Bulldogs

Emma Kearney

Fresh off a game in which she made history by being the first woman to log in 30 disposals in a game, she is in a good position to do it again on Saturday night. In a season where the Bulldogs have disappointed, Kearney has been one of a few that's stood out. After six rounds, she leads the AFLW in clearances (just under five per game) and is second only to Karen Paxman in disposals (22 disposals per game).

Jaimee Lambert

After a couple of quiet performances, Jaimee Lambert's last two weeks have shown us why the Western Bulldogs rated this young lady so highly. In the past two weeks, she's had 28 disposals and kicked three goals, including both of the Doggies' goals last week. If the Dogs are to get the win on Saturday night. She's got to continue this good form.

GWS Giants

Phoebe McWilliams

It's hard not to be impressed with how forward Phoebe McWilliams has been throughout this campaign. GWS have kicked 20 goals so far throughout this season - sitting last in competition in this category - McWillams has kicked over a quarter of those, with six goals from six starts, sitting in the top five in the AFLW goal kicking at the moment.

Emma Swanson

We mentioned one marquee player for the Giants earlier in this preview in Renee Forth, the other is Emma Swanson, who despite a delayed start to year due to injury, has really been a servicable player up to this point, averaging just over 15 disposals in four games this season. Needs a big night if the Giants are to get over the line on Saturday night.

Final Verdict

This one will be tough to predict, but I'm backing the Bulldogs to break their losing run here. I can imagine that there would've been some words throughout the last couple of weeks from the camp that has set the Bulldogs girls up for this game, which has been seen as the game most winnable to them. 

GWS themselves will be up for the fight, as they too, would've been sighting this game off as one they can win. Everyone's got to fire up. Ellie Blackburn needs to boot some goals, Emma Kearney needs to rack up possessions and the players like Nicole Callinan, Brooke Lochland, Jaimee Lambert and Lauren Spark, who have had good games in recent weeks need to all have a big impact on this game.

Western Bulldogs By Six Points

Pictures Courtesy Of Getty Images

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