AFLW Round 2 – Western Bulldogs v Geelong: Second week blues for the Cats as the Dogs look strong

 

If Geelong’s welcome to the AFLW was momentous last week, their Round 2 encounter was significant for a different reason.

 

Instead of the spotlight being on the newcomers, the youthful Cats team was introduced to a hardened Bulldogs side that looked to bring the form that allowed them to unfurl their Premiership flag from 2018.

 

For all of the intimidation that this would have caused the fresh and inexperienced Geelong, they didn’t originally appear fazed, as Phoebe McWilliams managed to bang through the opening major in the opening exchanges to push the veteran Bulldogs onto the back foot.

 

Halfway through the opening quarter it was clear that there was a strong wind at play at Whitten Oval, with Footscray turning the contest into a dour scuffle while they were kicking against it.

 

The Western Bulldogs are a champion force for a reason, and they displayed why with their cool head during the opening half. At quarter time, Geelong looked quicker and more daring, despite the loss of their number one draft pick and Round 1 matchwinner in Nina Morrison midweek due to an ACL injury. Their exuberant take on the AFLW competition looked to be reaping rewards against the leading team in the Bulldogs, yet they were soon to learn that experience and nous is pivotal in AFLW.

 

With Footscray knowing their home ground breeze well, their second quarter was dominant. But this wasn’t key – what mattered was that they knew they had to convert superiority into scoreboard rewards, and they did. Striving hard for ten minutes, the long-sleeved Berry cruised into an Adam Hunter-like goal circa 2006 AFL Grand Final after an intercept, before Toogood hit the scorebook and Blackburn laid a magnificent tackle within three minutes of game time. Following Blackburn’s booming fifty metre goal aided by the wind, the Bulldogs had leapt ahead without so much as a blink of an eye from the youthful Cats. They were stunned.

 

What the Bulldogs did in the second quarter was inflict significant pressure. The amount of stunning run-down tackles and spoils foiled any possible forward thrusts from the Cats and prevented them from using their dangerous forward line for the rest of the game. The Bulldogs engine room in Lamb and Blackburn motored ahead, being dangerous in the centre and constantly propelling their hardened teammates into successful attacks forward. With Conti roaming the half-back position with authority, the importance of a tough midfield and a game-breaking half-back flanker was made clandestinely obviously on Saturday night.

 

Not to say that this is alarm bells for Geelong, who have spades of talent and potential in their new line-up. With Purcell and Garing ensuring that they kicked consistent goals in the second half to stay within two or three goals of the reigning Premiers, the Cats weren’t blown away. For half of the game they all but matched the Dogs yet failed to convert this. For all the smooth functions of their forward line in Round 1, their structure fell apart under the harsh pressure of the competition’s front-runners. This was epitomised by ruckman O’Connor’s horrible miss in the second half against her former team, with the experienced leader doing the confidence of the hopeful Cats no good.

 

For the Dogs, they can only go up. They won but have much improvement left in them. Star Brennan was held brilliantly by Garing. They will continue to embark on their Premiership defence with confidence after two opening victories, with a lift in form imminent along their quest to become the AFLW’s first back-to-back Premiers.

 

For the Cats – a minor setback but also a learning curve. Can they resurrect their exuberant tactics and brave running game to create a smoother forward line without Morrison? Only time will tell, but there is a lot to be excited about for Geelong’s innovative AFLW team.

 

 

WESTERN BULLDOGS   1.0   4.0   5.0   5.4 (34)
GEELONG   1.2   1.2   2.4   2.4 (16)

 

GOALS
Western Bulldogs:
 Utri, Berry, Toogood, Blackburn, McCarthy
Geelong: McWilliams, Clarke

 

BEST 
Western Bulldogs:
 Blackburn, Lamb, Scott, Conti, Berry
Geelong: Purcell, McWilliams, Garing, McDonald, Keryk

 

INJURIES 
Western Bulldogs:
 Mackie (concussion, replaced in selected side by Smith)
Geelong: O’Connor (right leg)

 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Heffernan, McGinness, Annand

Crowd: 8612 at VU Whitten Oval

 

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Comments

  1. Yvette Wroby says:

    Nice work Sean,
    a really clean take of the game. Well done. Agree about the experience of the Doggies and their knowledge of the ground and the wind helping the home side.

    Thanks for the report

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