The Western Bulldogs went down by one-point in a heart-stopper against Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night, in one of the best games of the 2019 AFLW season.
The Dogs’ finals hopes were dashed before the ball was bounced, but they put in a spirited performance which was worthy of winning the four points.
Melbourne tall forward Tegan Cunningham put the Demons in front from a set shot with just over two minutes remaining, which ended up being the final score of the contest.
The Bulldogs fought the match out to the last second, and had the ball camped in their forward 50 in the dying seconds, but couldn’t find the scoreboard.
The Dogs had plenty of strong contributors in the loss, with Monique Conti (20 disposals, a goal and seven tackles) continuing her outstanding season.
Ellie Blackburn (22 possessions) and Kirsty Lamb (15 disposals and a game-high 10 tackles) were tireless in the midfield, and Hannah Scott (18 disposals) and Libby Birch (13 touches and seven marks) were resolute in defence.
Melbourne dominated the first quarter, but could only manage one goal from six scoring shots despite a lopsided 10-2 inside 50 count.
The Dogs responded in fine fashion, producing their best quarter of the season – a four-goal burst which saw them lead by six points at the main break.
Katie Brennan started the run with a long set shot, Naomi Ferres booted her first ever AFL goal, Ash Utri converted from the goal square after a huge pack mark and Ash McCarthy ran into an open goal for her fourth goal of the season.
Kirsten McLeod extended the Dogs’ lead early in the third, but back-to-back goals from the Demons made it anyone’s game with a quarter to play.
Conti put the Bulldogs seven points ahead with a classy piece of play in the opening stages of the last term, but Cunningham had the final say.
The Dogs finish their 2019 campaign against Carlton in the Pride Game at VU Whitten Oval next Sunday, March 17.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.0 4.0 5.2 6.2.38
MELBOURNE 1.5 2.6 4.7 5.9.39
Western Bulldogs: Brennan, Ferres, Utri, McCarthy, McLeod, Conti
Melbourne: Cunningham 2, Paxman, Gay, Zanker
Western Bulldogs: Conti, Scott, Lamb, Blackburn, Birch, Utri
Melbourne: Paxman, O’Dea, Cunningham, Pearce, Gay