THE BRISBANE Lions have extended their unbeaten streak to six games and booked a spot in this year's NAB AFL Women's Competition by defeating the Western Bulldogs in stifling conditions on Saturday morning.
As the temperature heated up in Brisbane, so did the contest between the two sides, with the Dogs coming back from a 17-point half-time deficit to be within a kick heading into the final quarter.
However, as they have so often during this season, the Lions found something extra in the final term to keep the Dogs scoreless running out 2.11 (23) to 2.4 (16) winners.
Lions skipper Emma Zielke and Emily Bates were both prolific around the ground for the home side, racking up 29 disposals between them.
Bulldogs priority pick Emma Kearney looked a class above the rest on the day, amassing 30 disposals for the away side in a gritty performance.
Carlton’s loss on Friday night coupled with this win puts the Lions in a strong position to host the Grand Final in two weeks time.
The first blow
After a goalless first quarter, it was Jessica Wuetschner who opened the scoring for the home side in scintillating fashion. The ball was driven deep into the Lions' pocket when the small forward crumbed through traffic, wrong-footed her opponents and snapped the ball off her left boot at a tight angle.
The ensuing celebration said it all.
The Lions two marquee players, Tayla Harris and Sabrina Frederick-Traub, formed an imposing duo in the Lions' forward 50. Frederick-Traub was a force in the ruck and around the ground to give the Lions first use while Harris wowed spectators with some spectacular contested grabs.
Lions coach Craig Starcevich has the magic touch. It might not be pretty at times, but the Lions always find a way to get the job done. With just four points in it at three quarter time, it was the Brisbane defenders who made the difference this time, with Samantha Virgo and Leah Kasler rallying to cut the Bulldogs offence down to size.
The ladder now
While the Lions have locked down one spot in the AFLW Grand Final, all eyes will be on the Adelaide v Melbourne game on Saturday night. A win for the Crows will see them clinch the second spot but a loss opens the door for Carlton, who need a very big percentage boost in their final game to overtake Adelaide.
"There’s been games where we’ve won because we’ve had better accuracy and today’s the day where we’ve snuck over the line with poor accuracy. - Lions coach Craig Starcevich
"We competed really well, there were a couple of fifty-fifty balls where a few of our individuals just stepped up. We thought we matched up with them really well, anyone can win any game in this." - Bulldogs coach Paul Groves
The Bulldogs head to Canberra on Saturday to play the first AFLW match at Manuka Oval against the Giants from 7:10pm (AEDT). The Lions will fly down to Melbourne in the final round take on Carlton at Ikon Park from 3:35pm Sunday (AEDT).
BRISBANE LIONS 0.2 2.6 2.8 2.11 (23)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.1 0.1 2.4 2.4 (16)
Brisbane Lions: McCarthy, Wuetschner
Western Bulldogs: Lambert 2
Brisbane Lions: Zielke, Harris, Stanton, Ashmore, Virgo, Frederick-Traub
Western Bulldogs: Kearney, Lambert, Blackburn, Spark, Scott
Brisbane Lions: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Lamb (concussion)
Umpires: Strybos, Belina, Pell
Estimated crowd: 4,200 at South Pine Sports Complex (Brisbane)