The Western Bulldogs have claimed a spot in the top six to put themselves in finals contention, after a tightly contested match against the Southern Saints on Sunday morning.
Playing in beautiful conditions at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, the Bulldogs were switched on from the first bounce, going onto record a 5.3 (33) to 3.9 (27) victory.
With the midfield dominating the early clearances, Stephanie Asciak slotted the team’s first major of the game.
But the rest of the term was a tight tussle, with both sides entering the quarter-time break with a goal apiece.
Repeat forward entries to the Southern Saints threatened to break the game open early in the second quarter, however young defenders Eliza Vale and Sarah Hartwig stood up in defence with some crucial intercept possessions.
Elisabeth Georgostathis was once again prolific in the midfield, with her efforts rewarded with a goal on the run just before half-time to keep the Dogs within two points.
With both sides striving to keep their finals hopes alive, the hard-fought battle continued in the third quarter, before goals to Annabel Scott and Brooke Hards saw the Bulldogs take the lead with a quarter to play.
In the final quarter, the Bulldogs’ young guns once again stood up, with the dash and poise of Jess Fitzgerald setting up a Caitlin Sargent goal.
A late effort from the Southern Saints was not enough for them to clinch the win, and the Bulldogs eventuated 6-point victors.
A determined Dani Marshall was awarded best on ground for her influential efforts, while fellow AFLW-listed teammate Isabelle Pritchard had another dominant display in the midfield.
The win was soured by an ankle injury to rising star Molly Denahy Moloney, however consistent performers Simone Reudin and Amanda Tessari covered her absence well with their ruck craft.
The Bulldogs will now look ahead to their upcoming clash against the Casey Demons on Sunday, with victory crucial to maintaining a place in finals.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 2.0 4.3 5.3 (33)
SOUTHERN SAINTS 1.0 2.2 2.7 3.9 (27)
Goals: B. Hards, S. Asciak, A. Scott, C. Sargent, E. Georgostathis
Best: D. Marshall, E. Vale, S. Hartwig, E. Georgostathis, A. Scott, I. Pritchard