18/04/2024

Credit - AFLW Media/ Western Bulldogs FC

A performance led by Western Bulldogs captain Ellie Blackburn helped her side secure a shock second win of the season over premiership fancy Adelaide.

A performance led by Western Bulldogs captain Ellie Blackburn helped her side secure a shock second win of the season over premiership fancy Adelaide.

With one of the most scintillating midfield battles in the league, the Bulldogs proved too much for the Crows, running out winners at Norwood Oval by a solitary point.

At the heart of the team and of the Bulldogs midfield was Blackburn.

The three time All-Australian midfielder enjoyed a day out against the toughest midfield opponents in the competition with a midfield including Hannah Button, Erin Phillips, Anne Hatchard, Ebony Marinoff and Rachelle Martin.

Adelaide Crows star midfielder Anne Hatchard. (Picture: afc.com.au/website)

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After a few injuries to her side it seemed that Blackburn had inspired her team to a win and that she did. Averaging 17 disposals, nearly six tackles and just under two marks a game, she has always been a barometer of the Bulldogs and reminded the competition she is one to watch.

In the match on Sunday, she featured in everything, one goal, 23 disposals, two marks and three tackles. The main contribution was her centre bounce work which saw her collect five clearances helping her team to win the midfield battle.

After scoring double the amount of goals of the Crows in the first and second quarter, the Bulldogs looked set for a mammoth upset, leading by 13 points then stretching that out to 17 points at half-time.

The Crows trailed by 15 points early in the final quarter and looked run over the top when forwards Ashleigh Woodland and Stevie-Lee Thompson turned the game on its head.

Woodland’s goal was her 11th of the season, ending a dry spell since round three against the West Coast Eagles.

The Crows then continued to pepper away continuously for a few behinds to Caitlin Gould and Erin Phillips but it was all in vain. The Bulldogs furiously defended the stoppages in their opposing goal square in the final minute of the game to grind out the win.

Ashleigh Woodland and Ebony Marinoff celebrate. (Picture: Jack Hudson)

Outside of the captain’s performance, it was Kirsty Lamb and Celine Moody who also helped to tip the scales for the Bulldogs.

Lamb had great influence on the contest helping Blackburn in the midfield battle. She had 17 disposals, four marks, four tackles and four clearances of her own.

Moody was good early for the Bulldogs helping to get them off to a hot start, she had 13 hit-outs in the ruck giving her midfielders the first look at the ball. She also hit the scoreboard with a great goal to steady the Bulldogs after the Crows looked dangerous before half time.

She also provided pressure around the ground with a tackle, a clearance and four marks as well as her football intelligence down forward to counteract the crafty Crows defence.

The main concerns to come out of the match today for the Bulldogs were the injuries to Brooke Lochland and Aurora Smith.

Lochland was collected in the head, five minutes into the first quarter by her teammate Bonnie Toogood’s hip. This saw the midfielder/forward sidelined for the rest of the match.

In the debut game for 18-year-old Bulldogs forward Aurora Smith, it was not the fairy tale it could have been, with her going off the ground with a serious knee injury in the second quarter.

Western Bulldogs forward Aurora Smith (Picture: Western Bulldogs/Twitter)

The Western Bulldogs have a quick turnaround and hope to continue their winning streak against Geelong at Whitten Oval on Friday night. The Adelaide Crows will look to come back against the Greater Western Sydney Giants at Blacktown International Oval on Saturday afternoon.

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