Western Bulldogs begin Burke era with win over Saints

Western Bulldogs
Western Bulldog's coach Nathan Burke. (Luke Hemer)

By Lance Jenkinson

Western Bulldogs have made a promising start under new coach Nathan Burke in the AFL Women’s competition.

The Bulldogs went to Burke’s former home St Kilda, where he played 323 games and won three best-and-fairests in the AFL, and returned with an impressive 25-point win in the first competitive game at Moorabbin since 1992.

It was a quick kill by the Bulldogs on the Saints, one of the AFLW’s new expansion sides.

The Bulldogs ran rampant in the first quarter, booting four goals to one to lead by 19 points.

When Bailey Hunt kicked her first goal in the second quarter to add to the lead, there would be no stopping the Bulldogs.

The Dogs remained in control throughout, even if St Kilda became more threatening the longer the game went on. Bonnie Toogood started the game like a house on fire for the Bulldogs, kicking two first quarter goals.

Toogood has taken the spot vacated by former captain Katie Brennan, who defected to Richmond in the summer.

The 22-year-old Toogood will be looking to be the focal point of the Bulldogs forward line in 2020. There was a lot to like about the Bulldogs on the whole.

Ellie Blackburn, skippering the team for the first time, was a cut above any other midfielder on the ground.

Blackburn was a ball magnet, finding possession in traffic and ensuring any supposed 50-50 contests turned into a win for her side.

Kirsty Lamb bulldozed her way through packs in typical style, while Naomi Ferres set the tone with her physicality, twice having to be helped to her feet after brave acts.

Whenever St Kilda did threaten inside their forward 50, it was repelled by a Bulldogs brick wall provided by Isabel Huntington and Lauren Spark.

Both defenders thrived under the aerial ball. While the game turned into a defensive scrap in the second half, it will be remembered for some impressive debuts.

On the Bulldogs side, American Danielle Marshall, a 28-year-old from Colorado, kicked her first goal.

Former Calder Cannon Georgia Patrikios had a memorable debut for St Kilda, racking up a game-high 18 disposals. She was later named one of two rising star nominees.

Western Bulldogs will play its home opener against traditional rivals Melbourne at the VU Whitten Oval on Friday at 7.40pm.