AFLW Round 7 – Western Bulldogs v Melbourne: Brenny and the Jets

Saturday, March 17,  7.10pm

Whitten Oval

 

Say, Ellie and Emma, have you seen them yet?
Uh but they’re far out, B-B-B-Brenny and the Jets
Oh but they’re fast and they’re wonderful
Oh Brenny, she’s really keen
She’s got electric boots, a Bulldogs suit
You know I saw them by the Whitten cantee-ee-een…
B-B-B-Brenny and the Jets

 

The Daughters of the West have hustled, bustled, roared and fought their way into the second AFLW Grand Final. On a wild, warm and windy night, the Demons had many chances to bury the Dogs but inaccurate kicking, the efforts of The Scrunchy of Justice (aka Emma Kearney) and a never-say-die attitude saw the Pups triumph. A dominant second quarter set up the Bulldogs’ win, with the two-point victory just reward for a superb home and away campaign.

 

The game played out like a Dickens’ novel: “It was the best of quarters, it was the worst of quarters”. The wind blew hard toward the Geelong Road end of the ground all night and the teams stacked their defences to compensate. The opening term was a real old-fashioned arm-wrestle. The Dees had the wind, but the Dogs had the commitment. Beginning in the first, the Bulldogs dominated the free kick count in the first half as they lead the Dees to the ball. The Dogs did not score in the first (or third) quarter and would have been pleased to hold the Melbourne women to one major in the opening stanza.

 

The Dees managed a late goal against the wind late in the second quarter thanks to Karen Paxman (who played a blinder), but the term belonged to the Dogs. There were three Bulldog goals from three free kicks across the night  – two fair, the Brennan one tiggy-touchwood. It was Katie Brennan, playing on her proppy ankle who straightened up the Dogs’ attack and often drew two or three Melbourne defenders to her. The contest was at hot as I’ve ever seen: bodies were flying through the air and crashing into the ground as both sides scrapped over possession. Emma Kearney hit a beauty from 50, the wind pushing her ball through the big sticks. Deanna Berry kicked her first for the red, white and blue, the recipient of a clever piece of play from Monique Conti who pumped the ball over the top into space. Berry roved, ran and kicked truly – a polished piece of play on a night for flukes and turnovers.

 

At the long break, the wind blew harder. Now, grit from the outer was blowing across the ground, rising in puffs and speeding over the grass to the stand and the terraces where we were stood. Melbourne hit back with the wind, Katherine Smith snapping a goal. The Dees hit the final term with a five point lead – but the Dogs now had the dirt filled gale at their backs.

 

The final term. Welcome to the Thunderdome. Two teams enter… two teams leave – but only one gets to go to the Big Dance. The dust flies and the players crack in. I feel confident just because the Dogs know this ground, and because the Dees have not played the advantage well, kicking a wasteful 1.5 in the third. Sure enough, the Dogs press and press and press. Conti gets taken high dead in front. She does her best to miss with the set shot, the ball must have picked up molecules from the post on the way through. But it’s a goal and the Pups are in front!

 

Then Daisy Pearce somehow gets the ball and the Dees work it carefully into the wind. Kate Hore kicks a beautiful goal, the Demons hit the front again. Five minutes to go.

 

Time now seems to both slow down and speed up. The game becomes more frenetic, every contest the difference between defeat and victory. The Dees flood back and the Dogs can’t get through them. The clock ticks, I bounce on my feet. We cheer every touch. The Kennel is rocking.

 

90 seconds to go, a throw-in around the Doggie’s 50 meter line. The ball is held up in the wind and falls over the rucks – but now the Dogs’ have their say.  Aasta O’Connor gets a hand to the ball to slap it forward – Bruton, unmarked and in space, cooly picks it up and handballs over the top to Brooke Lochland.  Lochland wheels around – GOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!

 

The Dogs leap and celebrate. I can see Ellie Blackburn, Scotty and KB barking instructions – the game’s still on girls, let’s go girls, set up again. Centre ball-up. The Memo comes into play, as the umpires force the Demons to re-set. The players now grit their teeth and go again. The ball flies into the Dee’s forward line, Hannah Scott, like the Rock of Gibraltar only far more likeable takes a mark. Paul Groves and Nicky Callinan are on the boundary line, frantically making ‘SLOW IT DOWN’ gestures. Scott pumps the ball long, all Berry has to do is fight for the ball, the siren must be close… She does. It is. There she blows!

 

Brooke Lochland slumps to the ground in joy and relief. Rocky Cranston, in despair,  goes to her knees and puts her head on the turf. The Bulldogs crowd goes wild.We leap up and down on the terraces. Strangers are high-fiving each other. The stand behind us shakes with the shouting.

 

I look for Daisy Pearce. The Melbourne Captain is just about my favorite player to watch for leadership moments. She takes out her mouthguard and like a champ, moves to congratulate her opponents and get around her teammates. Daisy deserves an AFLW premiership, but it won’t come this year.

 

For Melbourne, Downie read the play well all night as did Jakobsson. For the Dogs, Lauren Sparky (leader of the fan group the Sparky Army) absolutely blanketed Tegan Cunningham who did not get her hands on the ball at all. Jenna Bruton player her best game yet as did Conti. Brennan was important – she always is – but it was Emma Kearney who got the Dogs going. Kearney must be on very short odds to take home her second Western Bulldogs Best and Fairest medal.

 

We’re off to the AFLW Grand Final – the first played in Melbourne and the first to feature a Victorian club. Get to the game, it will be a cracker.

 

B-B-B -Brenny* and the Jets, playing for the flag.

 

Western Bulldogs          0.0       3.2       3.2       5.3.33

Melbourne                      1.1       2.1       3.7       4.7.31

GOALS

Western Bulldogs: Kearney, Brennan, Berry, Conti, Lochland

Melbourne: Cranston, Paxman, Smith, Hore

BEST

Western Bulldogs: Kearney, Bruton, Blackburn, Spark, Conti, Birch, Scott

Melbourne: Paxman, Smith, L Pearce, Downie, O’Dea, Jakobsson

* I wrote this piece before Katie Brennan was cited by the MRP. Hopefully, she’ll be cleared on appeal.

 

 

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About Jackie Lynch

North Melbourne fan by birth, but Bulldogs for the AFLW and Darebin Falcons for the VFLW. I am a high school teacher in the Mighty West and a parent of two kids. Other interests include history, reading, running slowly and the Facebook Page Shit Brick Fences of Melbourne.

Comments

  1. Yvette Wroby says:

    Excellent stuff. Was there. All you describe I am witness too. Loved the scrap of a game. The seconds that counted. The final moment stealing of a goal, the fine work of Lochland and Bruton who passed so magnificently. With or without Katie they are in this Grand Final to win. Look out for the bunch of Almanackers – if it’s not raining or completely in the sun, we’ll be sitting on the wing, Royal Parade side, wooden benches near the centre. If not, we’ll be in the stand directly behind.

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