AFLW Season 7 Glass Half Full/Empty: Western Bulldogs
IN a new approach to the AFL Women’s end of season reviews, Rookie Me Central casts both a glass half full and half empty lens over each side’s campaigns. The team under the microscope today is the Western Bulldogs, who returned to finals for the first time since 2018.
GLASS HALF FULL
The return to finals
One huge positive to take out of the season for the Bulldogs was that they made finals again.
Although they have been building towards it over the last few seasons, the young side finally made the cut for the first time since they won the premiership in 2018.
They did not get very far into said finals, but it is a good step to springboard off heading into the future.
The growth of Alice Edmonds
One Dog who improved exponentially in Season 7 was Alice Edmonds.
Despite surprisingly missing out on an All Australian nod, she had a stellar season and became one of the premier rucks of the competition, dominating the hitout realm.
Resting easy knowing there’s no further threat of expansion raids
The Bulldogs have been one of the biggest victims of expansion related raids in recent seasons, but they can now rest easy over the offseason knowing that will not be the case now, or likely ever again.
They can keep their squad together and build more consistently on development and cohesion within the team.
Youth rising to the top
Alongside Edmonds, the youth of the Bulldogs really lifted in Season 7 and showed how bright the future at the club is.
Rylie Wilcox had a stellar debut year, Gabby Newton returned from a shoulder injury in fine form, while Sarah Hartwig, Katie Lynch and Eleanor Brown all provided stellar output in Season 7.
GLASS HALF EMPTY
Not pushing past the first week of finals
Despite all the positivity that comes with making it back into finals again, the Bulldogs unfortunately failed to make a winning impression in the postseason.
They had a late resurgence in their elimination final against Collingwood, but were realistically not really in the match for long.
Luck of the draw masking where they really sit?
The Bulldogs may have won seven of their 10 matches this season, but take a look at who they defeated and it tells a slightly different story.
All seven of their wins were against teams that ultimately did not make the finals, and they did not play against much of the top eight this year. Had the fixture fallen differently, perhaps things may have turned in a different direction for the Dogs. You can only beat who’s put in front of you, though.
Got to boost scoring prowess
Although the Bulldogs scored a lot more goals this year than they did in Season 6, it still is not at the level of the absolute top-tier teams of the competition.
Their leading goalkicker this year was Newton, who kicked eight majors. That’s about half of what grand finalists Melbourne and Brisbane’s top goalkickers kicked this season, for context.
An over reliance on Blackburn and Lamb
As has been the case in many a recent season, the Dogs are still too heavily reliant on Ellie Blackburn and Kirsty Lamb through midfield. That factor balanced out in Season 7, and both players are difficult to shut down, but the Bulldogs can continue to address that going forward.
While the Bulldogs will be pleased they made it back into finals for the first time since their premiership win, not everything went to plan for them this year.
Nathan Burke and his team will not be happy with how this year ended, but they can take this return to finals and use it as a springboard.