In this topsy-turvy AFLW season, it’s advantage Western Bulldogs with two rounds left before the grand final. (AAP: Joe Castro)
The last game of round five of the AFLW has given us a little more clarity over one piece of the grand final puzzle.
If the Bulldogs had dropped the points against Collingwood on Sunday, we could have been left with all eight teams within a game of each other.
As it was, a 7.7 (49) to 6.5 (41) victory kept the Dogs ticking along.
But results elsewhere showed the potential is still there for a number of combinations to provide the teams for grand final, season two.
Let’s wrap up round five.
One paw in grand final for Dogs
Collingwood tried hard, but the Pies could not get over the line against the Western Bulldogs in Moe, which leaves Paul Groves’ team in the box seat.
It’s still possible for the Dogs to miss out on the decider in three weeks’ time, but with a game and 50 percentage points’ advantage over the rest, it would take a lot to go wrong from here.
Round five results
- Melbourne 4.10 (34) beat Brisbane 4.4 (28)
- Fremantle 3.3 (21) lost to GWS 6.3 (39)
- Adelaide 8.7 (55) beat Carlton 2.8 (20)
- Collingwood 6.5 (41) lost to Western Bulldogs 7.7 (49)
Brooke Lochland and Bonnie Toogood kicked three goals combined rather than 10 this week after their day out against Carlton, but it didn’t matter.
The Bulldogs’ engine room of Ellie Blackburn and Emma Kearney, backed by the likes of Monique Conti (12 disposals, three marks) and Nicole Callinan (10 disposals, four marks, three tackles and a goal) provided a strong platform.
But one of the keys for the women of the West is their ability to take marks inside 50.
They took seven marks to Collingwood’s one inside the arc, and gave themselves enough opportunities to get the job done.
The Bulldogs still look like the benchmark, but don’t get too excited — the Lions, Demons, Crows and Giants have all shown at various times that their best is up there too.
Pies, Dogs make more work for Christian
It was a very physical game in Moe, and the rest of the league will be hoping the Bulldogs players will be a bit sore for the final weeks of the season.
Girls Play Footy tweet: Love the “I’m not getting poaid enough for this” reaction from @sarahjolle after she is almost collected in a scuffle. #AFLWPiesDogs
No one could accuse either side of shirking the contest, in fact a few players seemed to take things a step too far and Michael Christian will find himself with a sizeable caseload from this game.
Collingwood’s Steph Chiocci was reported for high contact on Libby Birch, with what appeared to be contact from the hip to the head.
Birch found her name in the book herself, after she ran in to spoil a mark from Moana Hope, but her bump from behind left Hope on the ground.
There was a physical confrontation later in the game, when the Pies’ Brittany Bonnici threw the Bulldogs’ Emma Kearney into the fence.
Kearney responded by shoving Bonnici into the TV crews on the sideline.
Where do we go from here?
The Crows were impressive against Carlton, and will fancy their chances of winning their final two games. (AAP: David Mariuz)
It’s hard to isolate key matches over the final two weeks, because with things so close it can change quickly.
Brisbane’s loss to Melbourne on Friday tightened things up, and wins for the Crows and the Giants on Saturday did nothing to ease the logjam.
What’s coming up in round six
- Adelaide Crows v Fremantle – Fri 6.05pm AEDT (Darwin)
- Brisbane Lions v Collingwood – Sat 4.35PM AEDT (Moreton Bay)
- GWS v Western Bulldogs – Sat 7.10PM AEDT (Canberra)
- Carlton v Melbourne – Sun 4.35pm AEDT (Princes Park)
When bottom-placed Collingwood can come within eight points of the league leaders, you wouldn’t want to be having to tip this.
Melbourne must get the points against Carlton next week, otherwise they will have to beat the Bulldogs in round seven to have any chance of making it.
The Crows are barely hanging on to their title hopes, but they should — on paper at least — win their last two against Fremantle and Collingwood.
Meanwhile, the Giants have quietly gone unbeaten in their last three games and if they can get the points against the Dogs in round six, they will fancy their chances of keeping the run going at home against the Lions.
AFL Women’s ladder