The Western Bulldogs have more to play for than merely pride in the remainder of the inaugural AFL Women’s season.

The Bulldogs had the finals door slammed shut on them by Collingwood in a seven-point loss at the Victoria University Whitten Oval on Saturday, bringing to an end a difficult run of four home games to start the short seven-match season.

Bulldogs coach Paul Groves is not happy his side has a record of one win and three losses.

“Obviously, we’d rather be sitting here and be four-zip,” he said. “We’ve shown we can play really good footy in round one and we’ve come up against some really good teams.”

The Bulldogs have been plagued by the same two issues for three weeks straight – they have been missing some of their top-end talent and missing a lot of shots on goal.

Of a combined 32 shots from rounds two to four, the Bulldogs have converted just nine times.

The Bulldogs will use the last three rounds to develop players, get a better understanding of the list and work on game plans that are still in their infancy.

“It’s an ongoing plan so that the Bailey Hunts, the Ellyse Gambles, these girls can be here for the next 10 years,” Groves said. “So we’re about continual improvement. It’s giving them the confidence that you’re a Western Bulldogs player now. It’s bigger picture stuff, really.”

The Western Bulldogs had only kicked one goal to three-quarter time against Collingwood, but showed plenty of fight in the last quarter to get to within seven points after goals to Ellie Blackburn and Kirsty Lamb.

Lamb booted two goals for the game and showed her toughness with 14 disposals and seven tackles.

The Bulldogs will face Carlton in an 11.35am start at Ikon Park on Saturday.


Lance Jenkinson