The Western Bulldogs have made an immediate mark on the new AFL women’s competition with a 32-point drubbing of the Fremantle Dockers before a good crowd at Victoria University Whitten Oval on Saturday night.
It was the most impressive performance of the eight sides in action at the weekend and it already has the pundits talking up the Bulldogs as the team to beat in the inaugural competition.
A competitive opening term saw the Bulldogs lead by two goals to one at quarter-time.
Kirsten McLeod took two bounces and ran into an open goal to record the historic first major for the Bulldogs in the new competition.
Jaimee Lambert then goaled to give the Dogs some breathing space at the first change.
From quarter-time onwards, it was all one-way traffic. The Bulldogs restricted the visitors to just five behinds for the remaining three quarters and kicked four goals of their own.
The Bulldogs were totally dominant in the midfield.
Tiana Ersnt offered the Dogs’ onballers first use with a game-high 19 hit-outs in the ruck.
She was physical at the contest, creating space for her teammates and working hard defensively.
Emma Kearney, the leading possession winner on the day with 14 kicks and nine handballs, feasted on the silver service from Ernst.
Kearney was far and away the best midfielder on the ground, bursting out of packs untouched and constantly driving the Bulldogs into attack.
Lambert, Ellie Blackburn and Brooke Lochland won plenty of the ball at the stoppages, but they had to be brave in doing so, with the Dockers testing them out physically.
It was a rollercoaster first-up game for Bulldogs captain Katie Brennan.
The big-name player in the Bulldogs line-up was hardly seen in the first quarter, but that was a mere aberration.
From the second term onwards, Brennan was at her very best, collecting 16 possessions to go with six tackles, four marks and two goals.
Her work rate forward of centre was a sight to behold.
McLeod and Rebecca Neaves fought hard to keep the ball inside the attacking 50 for the Bulldogs. At the other end, Libby Birch impressed across half-back.
A big night in Bulldogs history was topped off by a standing ovation for Susan Alberti, an influential figure at both the Western Bulldogs and in the creation of the AFL women’s competition.
The Bulldogs will be back at the Whitten Oval on Friday night for the second of four consecutive home games when they will host the Adelaide Crows under lights from 7.35pm.