The Western Bulldogs have comfortably done away with Brisbane in the Queensland heat, beating the Lions by nine points to join Carlton and Melbourne as the undefeated sides at the top of the ladder.
The Bulldogs broke the game open in the second term by kicking four goals to none, but had to defend well to hold on for a key victory away from home.
The news isn’t all positive, however, with the number one pick in the 2017 AFLW Draft in Isabel Huntington being stretchered off the ground with what appears to be a serious right knee injury, having missed 12 months of footy after rupturing her left ACL in 2016.
The injury came after Huntington took two impressive overhead marks for two goals from the goal square, turning the tide in the Dogs’ favour.
Though the Bulldogs were held scoreless for the second time in the third quarter, the Lions could not break through the midfield and defensive clamp.
It wasn’t a first quarter that will please those critics who look at the scoreboard and leave their analysis there, but the pace was right up and both teams were spending the petrol tickets early in the Queensland heat.
No goals were kicked in the first term, but Brisbane’s Ally Anderson racked up possessions for fun, amassing nine touches in the first term which was five more than the next best player.
Though there were no majors in the first 15 minutes, Katie Brennan missed the best opportunity of the term 15 metres out straight in front, and both Sophie Conway and Kate McCarthy couldn’t use the ball on the wind enough to steer it between the big sticks.
Despite there being no goals in the first quarter, we were treated to the Isabel Huntington show as the number one pick took two overhead marks in the goal square within two minutes, slamming home two goals and suddenly pushing the lead out to 11 points.
But tragedy struck when Huntington’s right knee buckled underneath her while shoving off her opponent.
It didn’t take the Dogs long to shrug off the negative thoughts about their top draft pick as half-back Hannah Scott wrestled control of the match, finding plenty of disposals and pushing forward to kick a sensational goal with the outside of her boot from 45 metres out.
Where the Lions were able to find space in the opening round victory against Adelaide, they struggled to find any against the strong Bulldogs inside midfield group of Emma Kearney, Kirsty Lamb and Jenna Bruton.
Any thoughts of the Lions coming back in the second half would be made even more difficult just before the half-time break, as Bruton’s 11th disposal (of 12 in the first half) was a smart goal after dancing out of traffic.
They were almost able to get one back after Sabrina Frederick-Traub clunked a trademark pack grab, but her attempt was sprayed across the face.
23 points down and goalless halfway through the contest, Brisbane required some brilliance to get back into the contest, and as it happens so often, it came from Jess Wuetschner.
Making full use of the last touch out of bounds rule, Wuetschner slapped the ball off her opponent’s boot to win a free kick, then slotted a textbook snap to finally get the Lions on the board with a major.
The Bulldogs were kept scoreless in the third term, as they were against the Dockers in round one, but Brisbane couldn’t eat any further into the lead as the conditions clearly began to take a physical toll.
Emily Bates and Jamie Stanton had worked their way into the contest in the third quarter, but were largely negated by the heavy pressure from Angelica Gogos and Bonnie Toogood.
Try as they might, Brisbane could not work attempts at goal from close enough, with the wind making their comeback attempts even harder.
Despite Ally Anderson’s goal with four minutes to remaining, the lead was too much to overcome with so little time remaining.
Aisling Utri floated forward to put the icing on the cake after a second impressive defensive performance in two weeks, but the final margin returned to nine points when Wuetschner kicked her second.
It’s not often you’ll win a game scoring nine points in three quarters of footy, but the defensive effort of the Bulldogs negated the lack of scoring for the majority of the game.
Emma Kearney and Kirsty Lamb were sensational in close, but it was the contributors for the Dogs that allowed them to hold onto victory.
Emily Bates forced her way into the contest in the second half in an attempt to will her side over the line, but time was too much of a factor for the Lions who have now lost their first ever match in the AFLW home and away season.
Brisbane: 0.2, 0.3, 1.4, 3.6 (24)
Western Bulldogs: 0.1, 4.2, 4.2, 5.4 (33)
Brisbane: Jess Wuetschner 2, Ally Anderson
Western Bulldogs: Isabel Huntington 2, Hannah Scott, Jenna Bruton, Aisling Utri
Brisbane: Emily Bates (20), Jamie Stanton (16), Ally Anderson (15), Emma Zielke (15)
Western Bulldogs: Kirsty Lamb (20), Emma Kearney (18), Jenna Bruton (15)