REIGNING AFLW premiers Western Bulldogs have flexed their muscles, downing newcomers Geelong by 18 points at Whitten Oval.
After unfurling their 2018 premiership flag, the Dogs snatched the lead early in Saturday night’s second term and didn’t look back on the way to a 5.4 (34) to 2.4 (16) victory.
Co-captain Ellie Blackburn was sensational with 18 disposals, eight tackles and a goal, while Kirsty Lamb’s inside-midfield prowess ensured the Bulldogs dominated the clearances.
An inaccurate Geelong were handed a reality check in front of a crowd of 8,612 after defeating Collingwood in their first AFLW game last week.
Star recruit Phoebe McWilliams made an ideal start in her Cats debut, slotting a cool set shot from 30m out for the first goal of the match.
But the former GWS key forward, who missed last week with hamstring issue, missed two gettable third-quarter chances to finish with 1.2.
“We missed a couple of (chances) and you’ve got to take your moments,” Cats coach Paul Hood said.
“We did a lot right but we just need to take our big moments and make them count.”
The Bulldogs were slow out of the gates and trailed at quarter-time before Deanna Berry opened the second term with a goal of the season contender.
Seizing on a Geelong turnover, Berry burst away from her opponent at speed and ran 30 metres before kicking into an open goal.
It opened the floodgates for the Bulldogs, who quickly extended their lead through Bonnie Toogood’s classy roving finish and Blackburn’s thumping set shot from 45m out.
Geelong’s Aasta O’Connor copped grief from her former teammates after lining up for goal on the stroke of half-time and dropping the ball on her approach.
O’Connor limped to the sidelines with a corked leg in the third quarter and played no further part in the game.
Debutant Georgia Clarke’s stellar goal on the run gave the Cats some much-needed momentum but the Dogs’ class rose to the top during a tense goalless final quarter.
“They were really good with their structures and their set-ups and we couldn’t get our game flowing,” Bulldogs coach Paul Groves said.
“But again we found a way. We defended really strongly when they had all the momentum at different stages.”
Star forward Katie Brennan (0.1) was kept quiet but still managed 10 disposals and five marks.
© AAP 2019
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 4.0 5.0 5.4 (34)
GEELONG 1.2 1.2 2.4 2.4 (16)
Goals: Western Bulldogs: A McCarthy A Utri B Toogood D Berry E Blackburn. Geelong Cats: G Clarke P McWilliams.
Best: Western Bulldogs: E Blackburn K Lamb M Conti A Utri D Berry. Geelong Cats: R Garing M McDonald O Purcell M Keryk.
Injuries: Western Bulldogs: Nil. Geelong Cats: A O’Connor (leg).
Umpires: Andrew Heffernan, Nic McGinness, Bronte Annand.
Venue: Whitten Oval.