Western Bulldogs dismantled at home in AFLW shock

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 10: Hannah Scott of the Bulldogs is tackled by Abbey Holmes of the Crows during the 2017 AFLW Round 02 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Adelaide Crows at VU Whitten Oval on February 10, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Too much of the toil was left to too few for the Western Bulldogs in Friday night’s 25-point loss to a slick Adelaide Crows in the AFL Women’s second round at Victoria University Whitten Oval.

The Bulldogs had a chance to keep their momentum going after a stirring first-up win over Fremantle in the opening game, but their early use of a strong breeze at their backs left a lot to be desired.

The Dogs were sloppy venturing into attack and woefully inaccurate in front of goal – just five behinds was all they had to show from a lion’s share of possession to trail by three points at the first change.

While the Bulldogs would take the lead with a goal through Katie Brennan early in the second quarter, it was by no means a precursor of what was to come.

The Dogs would manage only one more major – kicked by Kirsten McLeod after half- time – for the rest of the game and never saw the lead again once the Crows got their noses back in front. To focus on the Bulldogs’ deficiencies alone would not do justice to Adelaide’s breathtaking performance. The Crows put on a show for their fans watching on television back home.

The visitors had the upper hand in all areas, from a water-tight defence to physicality in the midfield and class up forward, leaving Bulldogs coach Paul Groves impressed.

“I thought their ability to pressure us when we did win the footy [was a factor],” Groves said. “They’ve done their homework on our set-ups and our structures to limit the effectiveness of some of our players.”

The Bulldogs worked as a well-oiled unit in the first round but looked fractured in the second week. They sorely missed the midfield grunt of Jaimee Lambert, missing through injury, which left star onballer Emma Kearney exposed. Kearney racked up a game-high 23 disposals, but many of those touches were under pressure and not as damaging as the week before. That half back Hannah Scott was one of the best Bulldogs on the night with 20 possessions says a lot about the game.

The Bulldogs couldn’t handle the Crows’ clean ball movement from defence to attack and it had their defence under siege at times.

Ellie Blackburn never stopped trying for the Bulldogs with 19 possessions; neither did Angelica Gogos (12 disposals) or Nicole Callinan (11).

It was a tough night for Brennan. The Bulldogs captain had a target on her back from the first bounce. Her teammates need to do a better job creating a path to the football for her.

Better delivery to the key forward would also aid Brennan’s cause.

The Bulldogs need to bounce back in a hurry against Melbourne at the Whitten Oval on Saturday night. “It’s a really quick seven-week competition so you have to be ready every week,” Groves said. “If you’re off a little bit, potentially you cop what we copped tonight.”