THE WESTERN Bulldogs have avoided the inaugural NAB AFL Women's wooden spoon with a dominant second half to down Greater Western Sydney by 32 points.
The Bulldogs kicked five goals to one after half-time to secure a comfortable 7.10 (52) to 3.2 (20) victory in Canberra, ensuring the Giants finished on the bottom of the ladder.
After a goalless first quarter, the Giants kicked the first two goals of the game early in the second quarter and controlled of most of the play.
Coming into the final round with more scoring shots than any other side, the Bulldogs' were again plagued by inaccuracy, kicking five behinds before registering their first goal.
Midfielder Ellie Blackburn was dominant for the Bulldogs, gathering 25 disposals and kicking a goal on the final siren.
GWS marquee Emma Swanson continued her good form since returning from a hamstring injury, picking up 18 disposals and four tackles.
The Dogs registered their largest score for the season, but their backline's ability to restrict GWS to just the one second-half goal was equally important.
After a few weeks without marquee player Katie Brennan, the Bulldogs' forward line finally looked settled with Meg McDonald, Kirsty Lamb and Kirsten McLeod looking dangerous all night.
Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater…
Both teams fought it out to avoid the wooden spoon tonight and while the Giants lost out, both sides can hold their heads high after their first AFLW campaigns. The Giants lost marquee star Renee Forth before the season even began and the Bulldogs were without captain Katie Brennan for the majority of the competition. Both sides showed signs of what they'll be able to accomplish next season with their best players available.
It's difficult to win a game of footy with six inside 50s in a half. The Giants, despite being down on the scoreboard, were arguably the better team going into half-time, but the Bulldogs' defenders, helped in no small part by their midfield colleagues, gave them precious few chances to score after the long break.
In a team with a few more wins on the board, Ellie Blackburn may have been a contender for the AFLW MVP Award. She's averaged 19 disposals and kicked five goals for the season, ranked top five in the competition for both. She's also kicked 11 behinds and if she had converted a few more of those, it could have been a very different season for the Dogs.
Got the job done
AFLW's first No.1 draft pick, Nicola Barr, has quietly gotten the job done for the Giants this season, averaging 12 disposals and three tackles. GWS came into AFLW with both marquee selections, Forth and Emma Swanson on the shelf, which left the 20-year-old to carry a lot of the load in the midfield.
"It was great for our girls to get some reward for effort. We haven't really rectified our scoring inaccuracy, but it was quite pleasing to control most of the second half." Bulldogs coach Paul Groves.
"To the girls' credit, I thought our first half was exceptional. We played exactly the way we wanted and probably didn't get as much reward for effort as we deserved going into half-time." Giants coach Tim Schmidt.
Greater Western Sydney 0.1 2.1 2.2 3.2 (20)
Western Bulldogs 0.2 2.5 4.6 7.10 (52)
GWS: Barclay, Beeson, McWilliams
Western Bulldogs: Lamb 2, Gogos, McLeod, Lambert, Scott, Blackburn
GWS: Swanson, Dal Pos, Barclay, Barr, Beeson
Western Bulldogs: Blackburn, Kearney, Scott, Lochland, Lamb
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Umpires: Nic McGinness, Vic Rawlings, Matt Geddes
Crowd: 6460 at Manuka Oval