A RECORD-BREAKING haul of seven goals from Brooke Lochland helped the Western Bulldogs kick the highest score ever in a NAB AFL Women's match against Carlton at Whitten Oval on Friday night.
It was an outstanding display from Lochland against a Blues backline sorely missing captain Brianna Davey (knee) and Danielle Hardiman (ill), as the Dogs ran out comfortable 73-point winners in the inuaugural AFLW Pride game, 12.14 (86) to 2.1 (13).
The Bulldogs' score beat Melbourne and Adelaide's previous benchmark, with both teams notching up 70 points last season.
Lochland said she was unaware of breaking the previous record of four goals in a game.
"No clue but that was pretty exciting," Lochland said.
A former ice skater who tried to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, she has been following her fellow athletes.
"I lived overseas for a long time so I wanted to watch those guys perform," Lochland said.
Western Bulldogs coach Paul Groves was pleased with every aspect of his side's game.
"It was pretty much everything. Our ball control, the ability to kick. There was a passage, I think it might have been in the third quarter, I reckon we were kicking it five metres at a time but that's the intention. We want to kick the ball so we can mark it," Groves said.
"Then, just the work rate of our forwards and the work rate of our mids. They're just busting their gut every time they go on the field."
Amazingly, the Dogs' effort came without spearhead and captain Katie Brennan, who missed with an ankle injury. The inside 50 count was relatively even, with the Dogs winning 30-29, but Carlton struggled without the suspended Tayla Harris.
Lochland was seemingly unstoppable in the second term, finishing with a record four goals that quarter. Carlton coach Damien Keeping, who was in charge for the first time since round one after falling ill and requiring hospital treatment, did not have an answer for the Bulldogs livewire.
He made no excuses for missing personnel.
"There's no doubt that we had some talent off the park but so did the Bulldogs," Keeping said.
The signs were there early that Carlton would struggle.
"It was the level of intensity that we had early that really opened the game up, and opportunities up for them. We struggled with our tackle count early, contested possession, hardball gets," Keeping said.
It was a tough first half for vice-captain Lauren Arnell, who was dropped after round one and was recalled to face the Bulldogs, but the former skipper booted her side's entire score for the match.
The Bulldogs set the tone early, applying fierce forward pressure on Carlton. Lochland and Angelica Gogos set the standard with their tackling as windy conditions affected the kicking around the ground.
It could only be Lochland. She smashed the previous record of four for most goals in a game, notching up that tally in a tremendous second term before ending the contest with seven in a sparkling display. Key forwards Brennan and Isabel Huntington might be injured but the Dogs showed they have other options.
Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater
It is easy to be pessimistic about Carlton after its woeful display but the Blues had plenty missing. Davey, Harris, Hardiman, Katie Loynes (ankle), Lauren Brazzale (shoulder) and Georgia Gee (managed) were all missing. They will be much more dangerous with Harris back next week, while Hardiman and Loynes should also be fit.
The ladder now
A massive leap in percentage for the Bulldogs (up to 200, 64 points ahead of second-placed Brisbane) should see them hold on to top spot at the end of this round. With a 3-1 record and with the club hopeful Brennan could return this year, the Dogs are in good shape heading into the second half of the season.
Point of difference
The wind was tough to deal with at times but the Bulldogs were able to dispose of the ball more efficiently than Carlton. Keeping acknowledged after the game his side struggled with their skills and made it extremely difficult for the Blues to kick goals, with star goalkicker Darcy Vescio held scoreless by Libby Birch.
"I didn't see it (dominant performance) coming. I was particularly nervous today."
– Western Bulldogs coach Paul Groves
"It was a really disappointing performance this evening, and certainly not the way we wanted to go obviously. We need to really own that and go away and do some work."
– Carlton coach Damien Keeping
The Western Bulldogs have a nine-day break before they face Collingwood in Moe at Ted Summerton Recreation Reserve next Sunday at 2.35pm AEDT while Carlton faces a tough task against reigning premier Adelaide next Saturday at Norwood Oval.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.4 6.8 8.9 12.14 (86)
CARLTON 0.0 0.0 2.1 2.1 (13)
Western Bulldogs: Lochland 7, Toogood 3, Blackburn, Bruton
Carlton: Arnell 2
Western Bulldogs: Lochland, Kearney, Scott, Toogood, Blackburn, Conti
Carlton: S Hosking, Arnell, Moody, Gay
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Umpires: Mirabile, Rowe, Howorth
Official crowd: 8987 at Whitten Oval