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Moana's fast start gives Dogs' women hope for a big year

AFL 2016 Womens Exhibition - Western Bulldogs v Melbourne
Moana Hope's three early goals were the difference against the Demons
The whole thing is about kicking goals. Whoever kicks the most wins
Bulldogs forward Moana Hope

WITH 13 brothers and sisters, Moana Hope learned quickly how to fight to get a kick in backyard footy games.

It's that determination ingrained into this footy-mad Australian-New Zealand family that steels her to now slot goals as a Western Bulldogs key forward.

Hope's sensational start with three goals in the opening quarter set up the Bulldogs for a 20-point win against Melbourne on Sunday in the first of this year’s 10 AFL women's exhibition matches.

"When you play football in the backyard with family, the whole thing is about kicking goals. Whoever kicks the most wins," Hope said after the Bulldogs’ win.

"So, growing up in a big family against my brothers and sisters, it was very competitive. I do enjoy kicking a goal, but it can be hard work," she said.

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Hope, who has Maori heritage from her mother, converted from each of the three set-shots when the Bulldogs reaped the rewards for direct play with first use of a strong wind at Craigieburn in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

The win was the Dogs’ first over the Demons in five attempts. It squared the club ledger for the day after Melbourne came from behind to win the earlier NAB Challenge game.

"I'm always up for any kind of challenge, whether it's one-on-one (contest) when the ball is in the air or out on the lead. The delivery from the mids was perfect,'' Hope said.

"That was our first game of the season – we haven't played practice matches. So to get back out there, get your hands on the ball and come away with a win felt really good.

Hope, a member of the Victorian Academy, said she had a football in her hands by the time she was three. She is aiming to be part of the proposed AFL women's league next season.

Aside from training with the academy and her club team St Kilda Sharks during the week, the 28-year-old also gets tuition from a private fitness firm on running and technique.

"I try to read the game well, be good in the air and on the ground. My outlet is running out on the field with the girls,'' she said.