The Bulldogs’ Ellie Blackburn (L) contests for the ball alongside the Lions’ Jamie Stanton. (AAP: Hamish Blair)
The Western Bulldogs ignored the controversy of captain Katie Brennan’s suspension to claim the AFWL premiership with a tight one-goal victory over Brisbane in the grand final at Princes Park in Melbourne.
The Bulldogs, who topped the ladder with a 5-2 record at the conclusion of the minor premiership, tamed the wet conditions to beat the Lions 4.3 (27) to 3.3 (21).
The Lions also went down in the inaugural AFLW grand final last year.
The Bulldogs acting skipper Ellie Blackburn, who stood in for Brennan as skipper, said the grand final triumph meant so much to the club following the events of the build-up to the season decider.
“We got knocked down, we’ve had an interesting week but the girls, we’re a family we bloody love each other and this means the world to us,” Blackburn told Channel Seven.
The Bulldogs’ preparation was disrupted when their Brennan was banned following her sling tackle in the final week of the minor premiership, a decision which has seen her file proceedings with the Australian Human Rights Commission.
But the main concern of the Bulldogs on grand final day was the wet weather, as the constant rain did not allow for free-flowing play in the opening term.
It was little surprise only one goal was scored via the boot of the Lions’ Sophie Conway.
Conway’s goal helped give the Lions a 1.1 (7) to 0.1 (1) lead at the first break before both teams were kept scoreless in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs levelled scores soon after half-time however, when Deanna Berry launched a long-range effort from just outside the 50, with the ball trickling through the goals for a major.
The minor premiers moved in front via a behind before a second goal came minutes later when Kirsten McLeod, who was named in place of the suspended Brennan, pounced on loose ball and quickly stabbed it through to give her side a seven-point lead.
With less than 20 seconds until three-quarter, the Bulldogs extended their advantage, with Monique Conti snapping off her right foot to set up a 3.2 (20) to 1.1 (7) scoreline at the final change.
The Lions cut the Bulldogs’ lead in the early stages of the fourth quarter when Jessica Wuetschner was on target and a behind meant they trailed by just a goal, but the Bulldogs gave themselves breathing space with Emma Kearney slotting a major from a set shot.
Wuetschner kicked a second goal for the Lions but it proved to be too late, as the Bulldogs held on for victory.
More to come.