Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs halfback Kyle Flanagan admits ‘heat is coming’ as he prepares for life in NRL furnace as chief playmaker


“He found me,” Flanagan said. “I was a bit stunned there. He was looking for me, but he has played State of Origin and he has played for Australia so it is always good going up against him.

“I felt that I am the dominant kicker on the team and I can feel the heat coming, but I will have to work on that in my own game and spread my kicking game and the workload across the whole team.”

Kyle Flanagan cops a big hit during the Bulldogs’ trial match against Cronulla on Saturday. Credit:Getty

Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett still has a call on who will partner Flanagan in the halves for Canterbury’s season opener against Newcastle.

Brandon Wakeham wore the No.6 at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium with Jake Averillo racing the clock to be fit for round one with a minor injury.

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The Bulldogs have tried to prise Matt Burton from Penrith for this season after the five-eighth agreed to join the Bulldogs from 2022.

The Panthers have so far rebuffed all interest in Burton and even proposed a player swap with Dylan Napa, which Canterbury didn’t consider.

“We’ve got a few that will be racing the clock for round one,” Barrett said. “Averillo, [Ray Faitala]-Mariner, [Dylan] Napa so we’ve just got to get through the next week.”

Luke Thompson will miss the opening four matches of the season for an eye gouge in the final round loss to the Panthers last year.

Barrett was buoyed by the efforts of new boys Flanagan, Nick Cotric, Jack Hetherington and Corey Waddell as his side erased a 12-point half-time deficit to beat the Sharks thanks to a winning try from school teacher Brad Deitz.

“I thought Nick Cotric was pretty good, he had some strong backfield carries and I am still working on my combinations with Corey Allan,” Flanagan said. “Hopefully Jake Averillo comes back in the next few weeks for round one but I thought it was a good start.”

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Brisbane ends Fremantle’s 11-match AFLW winning run, Western Bulldogs too strong for Giants


Fremantle’s record 11-match AFLW winning streak is over following an upset loss to the Brisbane Lions.

The Dockers’ first goal of Saturday’s match did not come until deep in the final quarter, when Roxy Roux’s 45-metre set shot reduced the Lions’ lead to five points with 90 seconds remaining.

But the Lions powered the ball forward from the next centre bounce and Ally Anderson kicked the sealer to silence the 3,423-strong crowd at Fremantle Oval in the Indigenous-Round match.

The 3.7 (25) to 1.8 (14) defeat was the Dockers’ first loss since the 2019 preliminary final when they went down to Carlton.

The result saw Brisbane leapfrog Fremantle into top spot on the ladder.

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Emily Bates starred for Brisbane with 26 possessions and three clearances, while Anderson was also important with 15 disposals and a goal.

Standout Fremantle midfielder Kiara Bowers overcame a quiet start to tally 24 disposals, five clearances and seven tackles, but the Dockers’ star-studded forward line failed to fire.

Just one goal was booted in the first half. Brisbane’s Courtney Hodder unleashed a spectacular banana kick from the pocket to send her teammates wild.

The Dockers dominated play during the second quarter, but their wayward kicking let the Lions off the hook time and again.

The home side went to half-time with 0.7 (7) to their name and a one-point deficit despite dominating the inside 50s count 17-10.

The tide turned in the third quarter as the Lions threatened to run away with the contest.

Orla O’Dwyer’s early goal got the ball rolling and the Lions thought they had another midway through the term, only for it to be deemed touched off the boot.

The Lions won the inside 50s count 14-4 for the term, and they entered the final change with a handy 12-point lead.

Roux’s late goal added a curve ball, but the Lions immediately replied to seal the win.

Bulldogs shape as premiership threat

Isabel Huntington kicked three goals for the Bulldogs in their win over the Giants.(AAP: Daniel Pockett, File Photo)

The Western Bulldogs recorded their fourth-straight victory after downing Greater Western Sydney by 25 points in a commanding display.

Led superbly by forwards Bonnie Toogood and Isabel Huntington, the Bulldogs were too classy for the Giants and ran out winners 7.5 (47) to 3.4 (22) at Whitten Oval.

It is the first time the Bulldogs have won four consecutive matches during an AFLW season.

Huntington, who was an All-Australian defender last season, booted three goals to take her to top of the league goal kicking list.

Toogood was just as impressive in snaring three majors, including a stunning goal-of-the-year contender during a match-winning second quarter.

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The Bulldogs entered this season with a disappointing 3-10 win-loss record since their 2018 premiership win but have become one of the league’s in-form teams under coach Nathan Burke.

The day ended on a flat note for the home side, however, with Deanna Berry going down with a suspected anterior cruciate injury in the final quarter.

The Giants were best served by Rebecca Beeson and Alyce Parker, while recruit Katherine Smith played her first match since suffering a serious injury in December 2019 when at training for former club Melbourne.

Kangaroos score crucial win over Blues

North Melbourne injected some life into its finals chances with a 22-point win over Carlton in Launceston.

Staring down the barrel of three straight losses, the Kangaroos started and finished strongly and were good enough to overcome a mid-game fightback from the Blues.

The 9.5 (59) to 6.1 (37) result keeps North Melbourne in touch with the top six, while Carlton faces an uphill battle to make the finals.

Jasmine Garner was heavily involved for the Kangaroos and topped the disposal count with 32, while captain Emma Kearney picked up 28 touches.

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In a typically slow start, the Blues conceded two goals in two minutes and were scoreless in the first quarter but clawed their way back to lead 18-14 at half-time on the back of a pair of goals from Darcy Vescio.

But North Melbourne lifted its game in the all-important third quarter, holding Carlton scoreless and putting on 15 points.

The Kangaroos ran away with the match in the final term, with forward Sophie Abbatangelo nabbing two majors and Daisy Bateman picking up her second of the match.

In her first appearance in two years, former All-Australian Jessica Duffin came through unscathed and registered 11 disposals and five marks on a positive evening for the Kangaroos.

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Another Western Bulldogs win but Deanna Berry down and out, North Melbourne bounce back to beat Carlton


Roos coach Darren Crocker said he put his midfielders under some “heat” this past week as he felt their opposition had come out on top in the past two weeks.

“We put our mids under a bit of heat and they responded superbly tonight throughout the midfield,” Crocker said.

“When the game needed to be won, it was our midfield that stepped up and got on top around the contested footy, got on top around the clearances and gave us every opportunity when we went forward.”

Blues coach Daniel Harford said the North midfield were the difference.

“We got monstered in the midfield,” Harford said.

Sophie Abbatangelo celebrates a goal during the Kangaroos’ win over Carlton.Credit:Getty Images

“We had a developing midfield against one of the best and most experienced in the business and they had their way with us, particularly after half time.

“We were the deer in the headlines a couple of times. Their good players were the difference. Kearney, [Jenna] Bruton, Garner and [Ashleigh] Riddell – they were awesome tonight.”

Garner inspired the Roos to a 13-0 start, including kicking a goal of her own, but the Roos couldn’t add to their lead.

However Blues star Darcy Vescio inspired her side in the second term, snapping a goal before Lauren Brazzale kicked a goal on the run. Vescio gave her Blues the lead after winning a free kick and converting and they carried that lead into half-time.

Blues star Tayla Harris needed a concussion test at the break but returned in the third term, still the Roos were in control for much of the third term, eventually Daisy Bateman kicked a goal and Launceston local Daria Bannister followed it with a contested mark and goal to have the Roos ahead by 11 points heading into the last.

Blues forward Mimi Hill kicked her first AFLW goal to start the last term but Sophie Abbatangelo responded with a snap goal and North’s Grace Campbell followed it with another.

Hill kicked her second but Abbatangelo marked in the pocket and snapped truly to seal the win, although Nicola Stevens capped a strong game with a late goal for the Blues.

ROUND SIX FIX ANNOUNCED

Richmond and North Melbourne will kick-off round six of AFLW at Punt Road on Friday night at 5.10pm. Saturday’s games will see GWS host Brisbane at Manuka Oval at 3.10pm, Adelaide face Gold Coast at Norwood Oval at 5.10pm, then Melbourne play St Kilda at Casey Fields at 7.10pm.

Carlton face Geelong at Princess Park on Sunday at 12.40pm, then Collingwood play Western Bulldogs at Victoria Park at 2.40pm before West Coast and Fremantle play at Optus Stadium at 4.40pm.

An injured Deanna Berry.

An injured Deanna Berry.Credit:Getty Images

Western Bulldogs 7.5 (47) d. GWS Giants 3.4 (22)

Western Bulldogs have won four straight games and are setting their sights on a run to the AFLW finals but a knee injury to midfielder Deanna Berry served as a dampener on their win over Greater Western Sydney on Saturday.

Bulldogs forwards Isabel Huntington and Bonnie Toogood thrived with three goals each in a 25-point win over the Giants at Whitten Oval, which Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke said showed his side’s most promising traits as well as areas around ball use and pressure that still needed work.

But Berry’s late-term injury should be a uniting force for the Bulldogs as they look to match it with the best clubs in the competition.

“We will wait and see but it doesn’t look good,” Burke said.

“It highlights the fragility of playing this game. Those sort of things are a possibility of happening but that doesn’t make them any [less] heart-breaking for her and her family and friends.

“But it does serve as a reminder to the girls not to take anything for granted. Coming to training and sitting in an ice bath is not something to take for granted as there are girls who won’t get a chance to do that for the rest of the season. She will serve as an inspiration for us in lots of ways.”

The Giants kept the Bulldogs at bay for the first term but finally the home side began to break through the lines and as soon as the Dogs did it brought the ever-dangerous Huntington and Toogood combination into the contest.

Huntington took a diving mark in front and kicked truly to begin a four-goal-to-nothing scoring run and she added a second before Toogood took over.

The classy forward kicked truly from 35 metres out to extend the lead and then booted an excellent goal from the right pocket to put the home side up 5.2 (32) to 1.2 (8) at half-time.

The Bulldogs’ Elisabeth Georgostathis is wrapped up by Emily Goodsir of the Giants.

The Bulldogs’ Elisabeth Georgostathis is wrapped up by Emily Goodsir of the Giants.Credit:Getty Images

Goals from Kirsten McLeod and a third from Huntington from the boundary had the home side threatening to storm away.

But the Giants stirred and started to win some possession or exploit some poor decision-making from the Bulldogs to kick two goals of their own and keep the margin to around four goals.

POCKET GOAL

It may not be a goal-of-the-season contender but Bulldogs forward Toogood had the Whitten Oval crowd roaring with her third goal during a match-winning second term. Toogood received a bouncing ball in the right pocket, gathered it, turned blind towards the boundary and ran away from her defender then took a bounce. With her passing options limited, Toogood went for goal despite having almost no margin for error and her right-foot shot went straight as an arrow to extend their lead to 24 points.

GIANTS’ GRIT

It appeared the floodgates were going to open in the third term after the Bulldogs extended their lead but the Giants scored against the run of play with a goal after Alyce Parker set up Britt Tully. Soon after Erin McKinnon made full use of her 189-centimetre frame to pull down an overhead mark and convert from just outside the square.

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Lady Gaga’s stolen French bulldogs returned to Los Angeles police unharmed


Lady Gaga’s two French bulldogs, who were stolen by thieves who shot and wounded the dog walker, have been miraculously recovered unharmed.

A woman brought the dogs to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Olympic Community Police Station, just north-west of downtown, around 6pm, according to Capt. Jonathan Tippett, commanding officer of the elite Robbery-Homicide Division.

Lady Gaga’s representative and detectives went to the station and confirmed that they were the missing dogs.

The singer is currently in Rome to film a movie.

The woman who dropped off the dogs appears to be “uninvolved and unassociated” with Wednesday night’s attack, Tippett said.

It wasn’t immediately clear how she obtained the dogs.

The dog walker, Ryan Fischer, was shot once as he walked three of the singer’s dogs in Hollywood.

Horrific video footage released showed a white sedan pulling up and two men jumping out.

They struggled with the dog walker before one pulled a gun and fired a single shot, fleeing with two of the dogs.

The dog walker can be heard on the video saying he had been shot in the chest. Tippett said he is expected to survive his injuries.

Lady Gaga on Friday repeated her offer of a $500,000 reward for the return of her dogs — whose names are Koji and Gustav — with no questions asked.

“I continue to love you Ryan Fischer, you risked your life to fight for our family. You’re forever a hero,” she said in an Instagram post.



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Hawthorn Hawks defeat Western Bulldogs in practice match No.1 draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was overlooked for


No.1 draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan pictured in action on Wednesday. Credit:Getty Images

Ugle-Hagan – like all Victorian draftees – was unable to play much football last year because of the coronavirus crisis. Bulldogs great and assistant coach Rohan Smith said the club would not be putting pressure on him to be in the team early in 2021.

“He’s a kid. He didn’t play at all last year. There is a little bit of hype but we just want to see him compete and have a bit of fun,” Smith said.

“During training he’s been really good. He’s shown patches when he can hold a really good mark and hold some really good defensive patterns as well in his game. He’s just got to find that consistency and we’ll certainly see that over the next few weeks.”

Ugle-Hagan will be trying to find a spot up forward, where he will be competing with the likes of Naughton and Josh Bruce. Bruce was relatively quiet in the loss to Hawthorn. It was resting ruckman Tim English who looked the most dangerous up forward, with recruit Stefan Martin doing the majority of the ruckwork in impressive fashion.

Plenty of positives for young Hawks

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In a fairly new-look forward line that started with Jacob Koschitzke, it was nippy small forward Ollie Hanrahan who caused the Dogs the most trouble. Hanrahan kicked three goals to half-time and the rookie selection will be looking to build on his 16 senior games in 2021.

New draftee Connor Downie was impressive on the wing for Hawthorn and will provide coach Alastair Clarkson with some much-needed outside run, particularly with Isaac Smith and Tom Scully recently leaving the club.

Changkuoth Jiath – or CJ, as he’s called by his teammates – also impressed across half-back. Jiath is very athletic and has a few tricks in his bag. Expect to see a lot of him at senior level this year after only seven career games to date.

Value recruit

Forget about Adam Treloar and Ugle-Hagan, what about Stef Martin? The former Demon and Lion may prove an invaluable pick-up for the Dogs, given that it allows English to spend more time developing his forward craft.

Martin turns 35 at the end of the year but has been particularly durable during the later stages of his career, barely missing a game since 2015.

He proved a handful for Jonathon Ceglar and Ben McEvoy.

The Dogs are hopeful Treloar, who has had calf tightness, will be back for round one.

New rule had no impact

While there has already been murmuring of discontent across clubs for the new man-on-the-mark rule, it was hardly noticed at Whitten Oval.

There was one 50-metre paid in the last quarter, but that may have even been paid last year.

League football operations boss Steve Hocking would have been pleased with what he saw as he watched from the stands. The rule caused little confusion and both teams had 22 scoring shots. But then again, it was little more than match simulation.

Former Richmond captain and Hawks assistant Chris Newman said it promoted faster ball movement, but will it ultimately improve the game?

“I don’t know yet, that’s the honest answer, ” Newman said. “You can only gauge so much from training. I think we need to have a look at a few more games consistently.”

McEvoy back to the future

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New Hawthorn skipper McEvoy played the match in the ruck, interchanging with Ceglar.

The Hawks say he’s likely to play there for the majority of the season and not in his previous role as centre half-back.

“There may be stages where we need him to go back, but at this stage he’ll be predominantly in that ruck role,” Newman said after the match.

Newman said the recruitment of Kyle Hartigan had allowed McEvoy to move back into the ruck without leaving too big a void in defence.

“We feel like he’s got a real opportunity, as captain too, to be able to go in and play with Cegs and provide a strong contest for us on the ground,” he said.

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The key takeaways from Hawks and Bulldogs scratch match


Tim English needed some help. The Western Bulldogs went and got it for him and the early indication is that the athletic big man could cause massive headaches for the rest of the competition in 2021 playing primarily as a key forward.

That was a key takeaway from Wednesday’s practice game against Hawthorn at the Whitten Oval, which resulted in a 15-point win, 15.7 (97) to 12.10 (82) after the Hawks kicked the last four goals of the game.

English kicked two goals but always looked dangerous prowling the forward line, and the Dogs certainly didn’t lose much when 34-year-old Brisbane recruit Stef Martin handled the ruck duties.

The return of competitive football to Melbourne after 264 days could not have gone much better. Much of the hit-out between the two clubs was fast and clean. AFL football general manager Steve Hocking was in attendance and would have been pleased with the spectacle and interestingly, just one 50-metre penalty was played under the new rule banning any movement by a player on the mark. Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli was the culprit, creeping sideways and gifting the Hawks a goal in the final quarter as they stormed home.

One pre-season match with limited intensity won’t tell the story, but teams were prepared to kick laterally after winning the free kick and trying to create some overlap run to speed up the game, which is precisely what Hocking is after.

For Hawthorn it was a pleasing afternoon and it already seems like they have found a player. NGA graduate Connor Downie, their fourth selection at last year’s national draft, played a terrific second quarter and was good thereafter. He added much needed run and carry for the Hawks, enjoyed the contest and would seem a likely starter for the Hawks come the start of the home and away season.

They’d also be pleased with key defender Kyle Hartigan, who in his first game since crossing from Adelaide at the end of last season halved many contests and with his spoiling and other defensive acts. He is a readymade replacement for James Frawley.

Luke Breust kicked four goals for the Hawks and got them back in the game, while Tim O’Brien, James Worpel, James Cousins, Changkuoth Jiath and Damon Greaves were also busy. New skipper Ben McEvoy and Jon Ceglar split time in the ruck, while Magpie recruit Tom Phillips played well in bursts and interestingly, was rotated through the centre bounce on several occasions.

Bontempelli was excellent for the Dogs, especially early, while Rhylee West, Hayden Crozier, Mitch Wallis and Caleb Daniel were also prominent. Rookie-listed Lachlan McNeil, a mature-aged recruit from Woodville-West Torrens was among the Bulldogs best and is in the frame for round one selection.

Liberatore left the ground late in the last quarter with blood streaming from his head, no doubt impressing his father, Bulldogs great Tony Liberatore, who was one of a handful of spectators watching the game – which was closed to the public – from behind a fence near the Barkly Street goals.

Both teams were well below full strength. The Dogs were missing Easton Wood, Jack Macrae, Zane Corey, Aaron Naughton and Adam Treloar, while Taylor Duryea, Lewis Young, Ed Richards and 2020 no.1 draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan played in the VFL practice game that followed.

Veterans Liam Shiels and Shaun Burgoyne trained beforehand and did not play, joining Jack Gunston, Tom Mitchell, James Sicily, Chad Wingard and Jack Scrimshaw among a talented list of Hawks watching on.

The Bulldogs play Melbourne at Marvel Stadium in their AAMI Community Series clash on March 8, while Hawthorn hosts North Melbourne in Launceston two days before.


Western Bulldogs


Hawthorn





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Knights better fit than Bulldogs for Green


Blake Green’s backflip from an NRL deal at Canterbury to stay with Newcastle appeared to be a recruitment debacle for the Bulldogs but the five-eighth says he simply couldn’t do the job the Belmore club wanted him for.

Green signed with the Bulldogs for one year but just three days later suffered an ACL injury, which would effectively rule him out of the pre-season and early rounds.

A conversation followed with Trent Barrett that made it clear Green’s best option would be to stay at the Knights, if they would have him.

And 75 days later the backflip was announced, which Green describes as an easy fit for everyone.

“It was just unfortunate timing when I did my knee,” he told AAP.

“With Trent going to the club as a new coach, I’ve got a really good relationship with Baz, he needed someone to get his attack on in the pre-season and then start the year and get the club off to a good start.

“Obviously I couldn’t be that person anymore.

“It was an easy conversation to have.

“It was the best thing for both parties.

“Tt worked out really well and I’m happy here and grateful to be staying at Newcastle, and they’ve got someone to start the season off (at the Bulldogs).

“It was just an easy fit.”

Green laughs off any suggestion of hard feelings towards the Bulldogs but the contract confusion was just the cherry on top of a wild year for the former Warriors half.

His family only received all of their belongings from their Auckland home in November, having lived out of a suitcase for six months.

The 34-year-old started the season with the Warriors, moved his family to Australia temporarily, then found out in the media he was unwanted by the club beyond the end of 2020.

Green sought and was granted an immediate release to join the Knights, playing three games before suffering the ACL injury that will delay his 2021 season start, although he’s unsure until when.

“It’s almost been five months but once we get to that six month mark we’ll be able to do some testing and see where I’m at, but it’s been tracking along really well,” he said.

“The medical team at the club have been fantastic.

“The rehab program I’ve been put through has been really professional and I’ve ticked all the boxes so far, I haven’t had any hiccups.

“It’s hard to put a date on it though, the six month mark is when we’ll know more.”



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Western Bulldogs recruit Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is ‘outrageously talented’ says vice-captain Mitch Wallis


“It is probably going to be a little bit of a slower burn than most anticipate but he has certainly got the capacity to do it. It is just about getting a little bit bigger fitness base under his belt, then learning our system and how to impact games.”

Wallis said the competition for spots inside 50 would remain hot this season with Aaron Naughton, Josh Bruce, Josh Schache and Ugle-Hagan among the key options as well as ruck pair Tim English and recruit Stefan Martin.

He said his fitness levels are at an all-time high as he aimed to be more versatile so he could adapt to what the game demanded more easily.

Wallis said he was humbled to be elevated to vice-captain having had his resilience tested several times in his 151 game career. He missed out on playing in the 2016 premiership after he broke his leg late that season. He then contemplated a move to the Brisbane Lions as a free agent at the end of 2018 but remained. Then, midway through last year, he had his first child just 10 days before the family had to move into a hub on the Gold Coast.

The son of Stephen – who played 261 games with the Bulldogs – is rapt he has stuck to the task in the same colours throughout and the 28-year-old is looking forward to what lies ahead.

Bulldogs vice-captain Mitch Wallis, right, with skipper Marcus Bontempelli. Credit:Getty Images

“The footy gods played it the way they did and I am so glad I stayed at the club,” Wallis said.

Now he wants to help the Bulldogs improve on their performances in recent seasons after being bundled out of the finals in consecutive elimination finals. Having managed just one win in eight encounters with top eight teams in 2020 (they defeated West Coast) Wallis said the Bulldogs are aware they have work to do to be a contender.

“It’s just about the consistency and application across all areas of footy. We have a really good list and it is about preparing each week to play our best footy,” Wallis said.

“We have shown in the last couple of seasons that we haven’t played that well against top eight sides so a major area for growth is to bring that consistency against the sides that are top of the ladder.”

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Western Bulldogs vs Melbourne Tips, Odds and Teams – AFLW 2021


Victoria University Whitten Oval will play host to Sunday”s
Round 4 AFLW game between Western Bulldogs and
Melbourne. The game kicks off at 3:10 pm with Melbourne heading into the game as favourites with the bookmakers. Continue reading for our in-depth preview of the Western Bulldogs vs.
Melbourne
game and give you our free tips and bets.

When: Sunday February 21, 2021 at 3:10 pm

Where: Victoria University Whitten Oval

Bet 💰: Bet On This Match
HERE

Western Bulldogs vs Melbourne Odds

Western Bulldogs vs Melbourne Preview

Fresh off an epic win over North in a top-of-the-table clash, Melbourne will feel very confident making the trip down to Whitten Oval to take on the Bulldogs this Sunday.

It was as good a game the Dees could play last week.

Their second quarter was brilliant as they booted six goals and sealed a famous nine-point win over the Kangaroos.

Karen Paxman, Daisy Pearce, Maddi Gay, Lilly Mithen all starred as the Dees made a statement to the AFLW world.

Melbourne now sits 4th on the AFLW ladder 3-0 amongst four other clubs yet to suffer a defeat.

The Western Bulldogs, who are 7th on the AFLW ladder with two wins and 1 loss and are knocking on the door of the top six.

The Bulldogs got it done over the Cats in a sluggish grind down at GMHBA Stadium last Friday night.

Early in the last quarter, a point separated the two sides but the Dogs kicked the final two goals of the game to run away with a 15 point win. Ellie Blackburn was the clear star with 25 disposals and played a vital role in setting up the Doggies first two goals.

There was so much to like about Melbourne last weekend, and while you’d expect the Bulldogs to put up a fight, the Dees should be simply too good and should be able to make it 4-0 in this one.

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Western Bulldogs vs Melbourne Tip

We’re tipping Melbourne to win at $1.36 odds.



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Being the Bulldogs’ runner has helped me get women’s footy


“Fierce as f–k!” That was the line I heard bellowed from amongst the Western Bulldogs’ AFLW pack last Friday night.

I still don’t know who said it, but it had a guttural brilliance to it. Last week, the young women of the Bulldogs gathered in a small room within the changerooms away from everyone else, took their jumpers off (so I’m told), turned on some late ’90s pop and turned it up to 10 (I could hear) and then danced (I assume).

Ellie Blackburn and Kirsten McLeod celebrate as the final siren sounds on their win over the Blues.Credit:Getty Images

Football clubs are circles within circles, I used to inhabit that inner core, but not anymore. My role these days is working closely with the leadership group during the week and runner on match days. It’s a fascinating perspective. Once the song ended, I learned that the players each took their jumpers in their hands and ceremonially put them back on. The jumper, footy’s great symbol of camaraderie and history. The dancing was complete and the battle against Carlton was about to begin.

As the players emerged from the disco, the anticipation was palpable, it was then that I heard the war cry, “fierce as f–k!” It sent a shiver up my spine, in the best possible way. Bursting out onto the ground to the applause only a home crowd can give, but a quick photo with the opposition team (arm in arm of course) saves the intensity from bubbling over. From there, a quick warm-up of run throughs and handballs is all completed with rainbow flags dotted in the outer, amongst the team colours, waving high in the evening breeze. It was Pride round and there’s not a whiff of tokenism. Diversity, inclusion and the fight to be who they want to be, sexually or otherwise, is something the players have lived. The bruises are just under the surface, the pride splashed across their faces. If you can’t change emotional gears quickly in the world of women’s footy at the elite level, you could be left flailing.

Thank you for visiting My Local Pages and checking out this article about Australian Rules Football named “Being the Bulldogs’ runner has helped me get women’s footy”. This news article was shared by My Local Pages Australia as part of our news aggregator services.

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