AFLW Round 7 – Melbourne v Western Bulldogs: So close, yet so far for the Dees

Melbourne v Western Bulldongs

7.10pm, Sat 17 March

VU Whitten Oval

 

I’ve sat down to write this match report many times. Many times have I tried to find the right way to begin, to do justice to the atmosphere and the emotions of last night’s game. To write up a report that would highlight what the game meant to both teams and their supporters.

 

The simplest way to get the words flowing was to stick to the Footy Almanac motto: write from the heart.

 

Therefore, I’ll begin with two words: I’m shattered.  

 

I headed to the ground slightly optimistic but a little cautious: the Doggies on top of the table and coming off a surprising loss to the Giants would be tricky to navigate, especially without Hickey who succumbed to the ACL curse. It would be a tough match with the major prize being a place in the Grand Final.

 

One of the major reasons that I have fallen in love with the AFLW is the community feel at the grounds, and the Whitten Oval certainly provided that. For the warm ups I soaked up the atmosphere behind the goals near the Dee Army, watching young girls excitedly run up to the fence to keep a close eye on the Bulldogs as they went through their drills. It’s been a common statement throughout the two seasons of this competition, but worth saying again; how lucky are these youngsters that they get to see female footballers in an elite competition and think – I can be them.

 

The swirling conditions matched the status of my stomach for most of the match. There was a definite wind advantage for the entirety of the game, with only one goal being scored at the Barkly Street end. It was obvious from my place in the grandstand, where I had moved to get out of the dust as well as to sit with mates, that short kicks and strong hands would be the way to get ahead. The tackling pressure from both teams was again on show; definitely no easy kicks here. And neither team really looked like they were going to break the game fully open.

 

The third quarter will be one that the Dees will look back on and think: why? One goal, six points with the wind advantage, a chance to get well ahead and book a place in the Grand Final. But, considering the intense nature of the game plus the conditions (swirling dust is not healthy for supporters or players), being in front was the most important thing. And the Dees were, by five points, at the last change.

 

The last five minutes of the final quarter is the reason I’m shattered. As a long time Dees supporter, I’m used to my heart rate being abnormally high, but the last passages of play pushed that beyond reasonable limits. And when that last throw in drifted nicely for the Bulldogs into their forward line, I couldn’t watch. Cue being shattered. Credit to the Dogs, their game plan worked and their ability to rove the ball more effectively meant that they were set up perfectly to kick that last goal. That last goal that meant that they were in front by two points and had a chance to win the premiership. That last goal that meant that the Dees would miss out on percentage and have to wait another year for another chance. That last goal that showed that AFLW could provide the same emotion, the same tension and the same heartbreak as the men’s game.

 

I’ve talked in other articles about the fact that sometimes it is hard to ignore all the doubters, the critics and the naysayers. But they can’t stop the passion of the players, the fans and the commentators. They can’t stop the little Dees and Dogs supporters who were willing their teams on throughout that tense match. And they can’t stop that feeling of loss of what could have been, which means that we’ll be back to do it all again next season.

 

Melbourne 1.1 2.1 3.7 4.7 (31)

Western Bulldogs 0.0 3.2 3.2 5.3 (33)

 

GOALS

Melbourne: Paxman, Hore, Smith, Cranston

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

 

BEST

Melbourne: Paxman, D Pearce, O’Dea, Downie

Western Bulldogs: Kearney, Conti, Bruton, Blackburn

 

OUR VOTES: E Kearney 3, Paxman 2, Blackburn 1

 

About Cat Jones

When I'm not busy teaching secondary students, I'm thinking about sport. Hopeful of a Demons premiership.

Comments

  1. Yvette Wroby says:

    Well said Cat. Can feel the shattering from here. It was so close, and only a certainly with 90 seconds to go. The tension, pressure, exhaustion…and that’s just from the fans. Like your take on the young girls on the boundary, whatever team they support, they can be those women. Love it.

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