Western Bulldogs 0.2 2.5 4.6 7.10.52
GWS Giants 0.1 2.1 2.2 3.2.20
Western Bulldogs: Lamb 2, Gogos, McLeod, Lambert, Scott, Blackburn
GWS Giants: Barclay, Beeson, McWilliams
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Western Bulldogs: Blackburn, Scott, Kearney, Lamb, Lochland, Gogos
GWS Giants: Swanson, Dal Pos, Barclay, Beeson, Barr, McWilliams
The Western Bulldogs' women's team have successfully avoided earning the unwanted distinction of being named the AFLW's first-ever wooden-spooners, running out 32-point winners over the Greater Western Sydney Giants at Manuka Oval on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs kicked their highest-ever score in the short history of the AFLW, breaking the 50-point barrier for the first time. The win not only breaks a five-game losing streak for the Bulldogs, but also ensured that the Giants finished the AFLW season on the bottom of the ladder.
A scrappy opening-quarter resulted in both teams unable to register a goal by quarter time, but the deadlock was shortly broken after the first break with Jess Barclay opening up the goal-scoring, before Rebecca Beeson added one shortly afterwards to open up an 11-point buffer early in the second quarter. The Giants had firm control of the contest.
Inaccuracy has haunted the Daughters of the West more often than not this season. This unwanted trend continued on Saturday night as the Dogs registered five behinds before they got their first goal of the evening late in the second term, courtesy of Kirsty Lamb, before Angelica Gogos added another just minutes later to hand the Dogs back the lead just on the shadows of half time.
The Bulldogs pulled away from GWS after the half-time break, kicking 5.5 to 1.1 in an impressive second-half performance. The stats say that the Bulldogs out-worked the Giants in every aspect in that second half, winning the disposal count 94-87, the tackles 31-28 and most importantly the inside 50s 13-6.
For the Dogs to win this game heading into next season will no doubt boost their confidence and with the likes of Katie Brennan and Aasta O'Connor coming back into the team next year, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic at Whitten Oval despite a bad record of 2-5 - Things can only go up from here.
Leading The Way
Ellie Blackburn was again a dominant force in the midfield on Saturday night, she recorded a game-high 27 disposals, as well as six marks, five tackles and a goal just before the full-time siren. You could almost lock her in as an All-Australian this season, but could she be the league's first best and fairest winner? She's among the league's top five in disposals averaging just over 19 per game, only behind Melbourne pair Daisy Pearce and Karen Paxman and Bulldogs team mate Emma Kearney.
Speaking of, Kearney, who averaged over 21 disposals per game this season, and fresh off a 30-disposal game against Brisbane last weekend, was only held to 18 disposals on Saturday night, but was still just as lethal with the ball in hand. Another player who could press serious All-Australian claims is Hannah Scott who played a magnificent game off half-back. She had 13 disposals, eight tackles and kicked a superb goal in the last quarter. Kirsty Lamb's two goals came at critical moments in the game, whilst Brooke Lochland and Angelica Gogos also impressed, combining for 19 tackles and loomed as constant threats going forward.
Despite finishing on the bottom of the ladder, GWS fans shouldn't despair about this season, but instead should embrace their future. With marquee Renee Forth ruled out of the season before the season even began and fellow marquee Emma Swanson missing the first few games with a hamstring injury, it was always going to be a tough hill to climb.
On Saturday night, Swanson justified her position as a marquee player with a 19 disposal effort. Nicola Barr and Jess Dal Pos had been solid contributors in the Giants midfield all season and Saturday night was no different. Dal Pos had 17 disposals and eight tackles, whilst Barr, who was taken with the first overall pick in last year's AFLW draft had 12 disposals.
Down forward, the trio of Phoebe McWilliams, Rebecca Beeson and Jacinda Barclay found themselves constantly involved in the play and loomed as dangerous threats for most of the night. They scored all three of the Giants goals, and combined for nine marks and 29 disposals.
Points To Take From This Game
1. Meg McDonald and Katie Brennan could form a scary partnership down forward in 2018. With the Bulldogs' captain missing the most part of 2017, questions were asked about who would take over for Brennan whilst she was recovering from injury, they may have found that key forward in Meg McDonald, who over the past few weeks has impressed each week she's played as the key forward. If these two can gel together for next season, watch out.
2. GWS are well-placed for the future. The organisation's approach to the women's team is eerily similar to that of the men's when they came into the league. If they can get their marquee players fit, and continue their development in their younger players such as Nicola Barr, Erin McKinnon, Rebecca Beeson and Louise Stephenson, then the Giants will be considered big threats to the premiership in a few years time.
3. The Bulldogs have plenty of time to work on their conversion in front of goal for next season. They were the number one team in scoring shots this season, kicking 31.42 for the year. Flip those numbers around, and they would've been the number one goal-scoring team. The Dogs have the talent, but the reality is that it was the poor conversion in front of goal that cost them dearly this season. They have the rest of the year to rectify this problem for the new season, if they can do that, then they will be a huge chance for the premiership next year.
With the season now officially done for both of these teams, the focus turns on next week's big Grand Final as the undefeated Brisbane Lions host the Adelaide Crows in what should be an epic rematch of their encounter a few weeks ago. Even with the men's league kicking off next weekend, this will be a game you do not want to miss.