Last month I started my 2019 AFL preview, detailing the competitive prospects of six of the competition’s teams, from Adelaide to Fremantle.
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The Western Bulldogs have defeated the Melbourne Demons by two points in blustery conditions at Whitten Oval on Saturday night.
They left it very late, but the Bulldogs took the lead with less than two minutes to go and then put extra defenders behind the ball to protect their two-point buffer.
AFLW leading goalkicker Brooke Lochland snapped the winning goal in a frenetic final few minutes, and the Western Bulldogs locked themselves in as one of the grand finalists for 2018.
It was a tight contest across the ground, and while the Bulldogs were kept scoreless in the two quarters they kicked into the wind, the Demons managed to muster up two goals in their two quarters against the breeze.
Melbourne had their opportunities with the gusty conditions in the third quarter, but a poor effort in front of goals meant they added only one goal and six behinds.
The Bulldogs were pleased with their work in the first three quarters and were confident going into the last, knowing they had the breeze advantage. However, a great set-shot goal by Kate Hore gave Melbourne the lead once again midway through the final term.
All of Melbourne’s work across the four quarters went unrewarded though, and the Bulldogs snatched it late.
Emma Kearney (20 disposals, one goal, four tackles) was best on ground for the Bulldogs. Jenna Bruton also had plenty of the ball, with 18 disposals, and topped the tackle count for the night with ten.
Karen Paxman (22 disposals, one goal) and Daisy Pearce (17 disposals, four tackles) led the way for Melbourne through the centre. Melbourne coach Mick Stinear revealed in a post-match press conference that Paxman played 100 per cent game time and desperately tried to put her team in the decider.
Bulldogs captain Katie Brennan had a positive return to the team, leading high up the ground and contributing with one goal from her seven disposals.
Sarah Lampard went off in the first quarter with a right knee. It was put on ice and she played no further part in the game, leaving Melbourne with 20 players for the majority of the match. Scans will reveal more today.
Melbourne’s 2018 season is over, and again they’ve come close to the grand final.
But the season continues Western Bulldogs, and they’ll play in the second AFLW grand final, at Ikon Park next weekend. Who the Bulldogs will play is to be determined today when the Adelaide Crows take on the Collingwood Magpies.
If Adelaide win, they will join the Bulldogs in the grand final. If the Magpies win or if the game ends in a draw, the Brisbane Lions and Western Bulldogs will face off in the decider.