Western Bulldogs have made a winning start to their AFL Women’s premiership defence.
The Bulldogs were at times under the pump but held on for a gritty one-point win over bogey side Adelaide Crows in the season opener at Norwood Oval on Saturday night.
It was the first time the Bulldogs have beaten the Crows in the AFLW.
“It was tough, I can tell you that,” Bulldogs co-captain Ellie Blackburn said. “Adelaide are a great outfit and we definitely rate them very high.
“Their defence, their pressure, the way they go about it, they’re a top notch team.
“To get this win really sets us up.”
It was not the most convincing of showings from the rusty Bulldogs.
A summer of high player turnover, brought about by the addition of two expansion teams and a heavy pre-season injury toll, saw the Bulldogs depth tested from the get-go.
The Bulldogs handed debuts to three players, but were reliant on a number of their premiership stars to get them over the line.
Defender Lauren Spark was best-on-ground for the Bulldogs.
A key pillar in the back half, the 33-year-old was a road block between the Crows and their goal.
Spark finished with 14 possessions and 11 crucial marks to constantly frustrate the Crows.
Hannah Scott was her usual driving force off the half back line for the Bulldogs.
An All Australian last season, Scott finished with a team-high 19 possessions, many of which turning defence into attack in the blink of an eye.
Defender Libby Birch was outstanding in the one-on-one contests.
The 21-year-old has been so dependable for the Dogs since their inaugural season.
Blackburn was prominent with 18 disposals, while Emma Mackie shone as a link-up player across half forward.
The Dogs other co-captain, Katie Brennan, kicked her side’s only two goals in the second quarter.
When the Bulldogs needed someone to put their body on the line and lift in the second half, it was the courageous Kirsty Lamb who put her hand up.
Lamb had a team high eight tackles to go with 11 disposals.
The Bulldogs undoubtedly rode their luck in this one.
Had the Crows kicked straight – the hosts finished with 1.11 – it might have been a different story.
The Bulldogs fighting qualities shone through and showed they will be a tough nut to crack this season.
Their next test will come in their home opener against Geelong at the VU Whitten Oval on Saturday night.
With both sides winning their round one matches by a point, a big crowd is anticipated at the kennel to see which side can go 2-0.
Adelaide Crows 1.11 (17) lt Western Bulldogs 2.6 (18)
Goals: Brennan 2.
Best: Spark, Lamb, Blackburn, Scott, Mackie, Birch.
At Norwood Oval, Adelaide