Clash of ex-teammates sums up Bulldogs’ win over Melbourne

WESTERN BULLDOGS
1.0 2.1 4.1 6.1 (37)
MELBOURNE
1.4 1.6 2.7 2.12 (24)

GOALS: Bulldogs: Huntington 2, Fitzgerald 2, Blackburn, McLeod. Melbourne: Scott, Paxman.
BEST: Bulldogs: Blackburn, Huntington, Scott, Fitzgerald, Lamb, Hartwig, Brown. Melbourne: Paxman, Gay, Hanks, L.Pearce.
CROWD 3180

It was a moment full of symbolism. Playing against her former side, Western Bulldogs premiership player Libby Birch was left to eat the dust of Bulldogs captain Ellie Blackburn, who outbodied her opponent, gathered, steadied and slotted the day’s defining goal from 35 metres out early in the final quarter.

Blackburn turned to the Dogs’ fans packing the main grandstand at Whitten Oval, clenching her fists triumphantly. This act said it all. Melbourne had fallen over and the Dogs were there to pounce.

Ellie Blackburn put it all on the line for the Bulldogs during the win over the Demons on Sunday.Credit:Getty Images

This one got away badly from the Demons, who yet again showed their tendency to lose AFLW games they should win. Melbourne had dominated the first half, leading the inside 50 count by 17 at the long break, yet somehow they trailed.

They had allowed the Bulldogs to stay in the contest, and that was enough of a sniff for Nathan Burke’s women, who recorded their third straight win.

Izzy Huntington was again magnificent, kicking two telling goals in the third term as the crowd found more and more voice, and the doubts crept further into the Dees’ heads.

Maddie Gay and Karen Paxman had dominated the first half. But Melbourne were getting it done everywhere but the scoreboard.

Subdued before the long break, Blackburn stepped up several notches in the second half, leading the charge along with Huntington and experienced pair Kirsty Lamb and Hannah Scott. But this was one Melbourne will be left to rue.

ONE THAT GOT AWAY

That a side could lead the inside 50 count 20-3 yet still trail on the scoreboard beggared belief but that was the state of play midway through the second term on Sunday. There had been a combination of factors that contributed to the anomaly. One was the fact the Dees didn’t take advantage of their early dominance, missing a glut of chances. Eden Zanker was the biggest culprit. The Dogs also defended valiantly, absorbing pressure during the first quarter in which the Dees were kicking with a strong wind. The home side made considerably better use of its limited opportunities, with Kirsten McLeod and Jess Fitzgerald both converting to help their side to the narrowest of half-time leads.

NOT QUITE SCOT FREE

Demon Lily Mithen knew all about it when she rode a heavy bump from the Bulldogs’ Scott early in the second quarter. Mithen was in the wars, trapped in a potentially dangerous Bonnie Toogood tackle during the third term. Bulldogs enforcer Lamb also got in on the act, laying a fierce hip and shoulder on Dees youngster Brenna Tarrant shortly before half-time. It was a bruising and tough-tackling affair, with Bulldog Naomi Ferres needing to be helped off the ground after copping a nasty knock to her face in the first term, while teammate Celine Moody (shoulder) and Elisabeth Georgostahis (hand) were both worse for wear after third-quarter incidents.

SOMETHING TO CROW ABOUT

In the earlier game on Sunday, Adelaide ended the Brisbane Lions’ unbeaten start to the season with a 12-point win at Hickey Park. Erin Phillips starred with 21 disposals and four goals.

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