Bulldogs bounce back to move through to Prelim

THE Western Bulldogs are through to the 2024 VFLW Preliminary Final after a two-goal win over Port Melbourne. The Bulldogs defence was the side’s strength, really restricting the Borough’s attempts to even get a shot away.

It was tight, tough and it was congested early.

The Borough were the ones doing much of the attacking early, but as much as the Bulldogs defence was holding up really well, the Port midfield dominance meant that the Bulldogs struggled to get it past halfway.

For all the strong marks that Courtney Ugle, Tamsin Crook and others were taking, the domination around the ball of the likes of Ava Seton and Georgia Booth meant that the Bulldogs could not really drive momentum forward.

The ball spent much of the opening 10 minutes of the quarter stuck between the 50m arcs, and it took almost 15 minutes for either side to get any kind of score on the board. It took a burst of speed from Eleanor Bishop to get the ball properly into the Bulldogs’ 50, and it eventually worked its way to Mia-Rae Clifford, who slotted through the first major of the game.

As much as the Dogs maintained the attacking momentum for the last part of the quarter, they were unable to add to their score, so Clifford’s goal remained the sole score for the term.

The second quarter started much like the first did, with the ball pinging between the 50m arcs in a hard fought battle. The Bulldogs did have the better of the chances early, but Kate Adams and the rest of the Port defence stood tall and kept their shot taking to a minimum.

That was until the sixth minute when Jaimi Tabb broke free from the pack and kicked truly to give the Dogs their second for the afternoon. The Bulldogs defence continued to hold really strong and keep any kind of attacking momentum for the Borough quashed.

Things were starting to get fiery as the quarter progressed, and just as it looked like the Borough might go a second quarter scoreless, they finally got a score on the board but unfortunately for them it was a behind.

The Borough kept trying to find some extra score, but alas Kaitlyn O’Keefe‘s behind proved to be the final score of the term, so the margin sat at 13 points in the Bulldogs’ favour at the main break.

The Bulldogs started the third quarter with the momentum and were quick to gain reward from it when Renee Saulitis broke away from the pack and sneakily slotted one through.

Clifford kicked her second for the game five minutes later and suddenly the Bulldogs were finally asserting some confident control on proceedings.

It was the quarter that the Bulldogs’ defence really showed its class, making the Borough really work for a disposal. Port Melbourne certainly had plenty of chances to attack and chip away at the deficit, but the Bulldog defence continued to hold strong.

Just as it was looking like a first goal for the game would elude the Borough for yet another quarter, Seton stood up and booted one through, finally breaking the drought. However the reigning premiers were still 19 points down at the final change, with a lot of work to do to prolong their season for at least one more week.

Port had far more of the attacking momentum early in the final term, but perhaps as a strong representation of how much of their afternoon had gone, it took them over five minutes to finally get any scoreboard reward for it. They finally did so though when Bella Stutt slotted one through from the pocket to bring the margin back down to just over two goals.

As much as the Borough faithful may have started to sniff a comeback, things did not go to plan as a fancy footed Mary Sandral countered with a goal of her own to restore the 20 point buffer.

At this point there was still plenty of time for the Borough to fight back, but as they had done so all day, the Bulldog defence continued to hold strong, with realistic opportunities to shoot rare.

O’Keefe did manage to get a consolation goal in the dying seconds of the quarter but by then it was far too late.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 | 2.2 | 4.3 | 5.4 (34)
PORT MELBOURNE 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.2 | 3.4 (22)


Western Bulldogs: M Clifford 2, J Tabb, R Saulitis, M Sandral
Port Melbourne: B Stutt, A Seton, K O’Keefe


Western Bulldogs: T.Crook, C.Ugle, T.Skenderis, D.Carbone, J.Tabb
Port Melbourne: G.Booth, A.Seton, L.Caruso, I.Stutt, K.O’Keefe

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