The Western Bulldogs secured their second win of the AFLW season on Saturday afternoon, defeating a spirited Port Adelaide outfit by 19-points in what was a gruelling encounter between the two sides.
In front of a sell-out crowd at Alberton Oval, the home side was ultimately overrun by a more polished Bulldogs team, who led the contest at every change.
Kirsty Lamb and Ellie Blackburn led the way for the Bulldogs, with the pair finishing the match as equal-highest possession winners on the ground with 18 disposals. 20-year-old midfielder Isabelle Pritchard also backed up her impressive Round 1 performance, gathering 16 disposals.
Port Adelaide struggled to gain field position for the majority of the day, losing the inside 50 count by 19 and having to be resolute in defence. However, despite the Bulldogs’ dominance, inaccuracy from Nathan Burke’s side kept the Power within touching distance at half-time.
A late third-quarter goal from Bulldogs key forward Celine Moody gave her side some breathing space heading into the final term. Elle Bennetts then put the game to bed in the last, booting the only goal of the quarter.
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For Port Adelaide, Gemma Houghton was their only goal-scorer, whilst youngsters Alex Ballard (15 disposals) and Hannah Ewings (seven tackles) performed strongly.
Speaking exclusively to The Inner Sanctum post-game, Port Adelaide defender Ebony O’Dea said that despite the result, there were still some positives to be taken from the match.
“I think we had good patches and we showed that when we do things right, we can get on top in a game. We did win tackles and that’s something we’re proud of, but there’s a lot of things to learn as well,” O’Dea said.
The match was ultimately marred by a horrific injury sustained by Western Bulldogs player Britney Gutknecht in the dying stages of the second term.
An attempted smother from Port Adelaide’s Abbey Dowrick resulted in Gutknecht’s lower right leg fracturing, causing the game to be halted as an ambulance made its way onto the ground. This meant that players from both sides spent just shy of 50 minutes out on the ground in the second quarter.
“It was quite a delay which is very unusual for a game of footy,” O’Dea said.
“Everyone was very professional about it, and it was just a footy act. It happens in football and all the girls know that’s a risk, but I think we collected ourselves really well and then had that couple of minutes to get back into it before half-time.”
Trailing by six points at half-time, Port Adelaide produced their best period of football during the third term, however, were unable to make it count on the scoreboard. Katie Lynch patrolled the Bulldogs’ backline, thwarting multiple attacks to finish with seven marks for the game.
Nevertheless, ferocious tackling remained a consistent feature of Port Adelaide’s game throughout the day, backing up their 92 tackles against West Coast last weekend with another 68 against the Bulldogs.
O’Dea said that the team prides itself on its attack on the contest.
“We love tackling. We were really proud of that stat last weekend and we’re proud to have continued that as well,” she said.
“I think tackling shows that you want it and you’re putting the effort in.”
5,367 spectators flocked to Alberton Oval to be part of the Port Adelaide Football Club’s first home game in its AFLW history.
O’Dea, who hails from South Australia, said that the historic occasion was one which was incredible to be involved in.
“That was outstanding. It’s not lost on us just because we had a loss. It was still incredibly special and there were a lot of goosebump moments,” she said.
“The start of the game with Never Tear Us Apart, and on the field, you’d do a defensive act and everyone just gets around you.
“We really appreciate our supporters getting behind us and it made the day so enjoyable.”
Port Adelaide will be hoping to secure its first win of the season against Carlton next weekend. Meanwhile, the Western Bulldogs will be looking to make it three on the trot against Fremantle next Friday.
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