Kate McCarthy celebrates a goal with teammates. Picture: Getty Images
Kate McCarthy celebrates a goal with teammates. Picture: Getty Images

AFLW premiers have Dog of a night

THE Brisbane Lions delivered a potentially lethal blow to the Western Bulldogs' AFLW premiership defence at the Whitten Oval, gaining some belated revenge for last year's grand final loss.

The loss leaves the Dogs on the bottom of the hotly-contested Conference A, with two wins from their four games.

On the flip side, the 32-point victory from the Lions before 6541 fans elevates them to top spot in the easier Conference B, given Carlton squandered an opportunity down at Geelong in the earlier game.

Having first use of a strong breeze blowing towards the Barkly St end, the Bulldogs looked set for a big start, but the Lions had other ideas.

The home side could manage only two behinds in the opening term, while the visitors tackled hard and kept the scoreboard ticking over.

The Bulldogs didn't score a goal until the seven-minute mark of the third term, by which time the Lions had already registered four majors.

To make matters worse, Ellie Blackburn was stretchered off at the start of the final term after copping a heavy knock, and was taken to hospital as a precaution.

Ellie Blackburn is attended to after copping a heavy knock. Picture: Getty Images
Ellie Blackburn is attended to after copping a heavy knock. Picture: Getty Images

"You are chasing tail when you don't use the wind in that first quarter," Bulldogs coach Paul Groves said.

"You've got to take your chances, don't you.

"The scoreboard would indicate that something is not clicking at the moment. But you can't question the effort of the girls.

"Can we still make it? Yeah of course, we can, But we can't probably have any more slip ups."

Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich said he couldn't be more pleased with the way his team responded.

"They were super, they pressured the opposition into error and then got out in space, carried the ball and used it really well," Starcevich said.

"They were very determined to rectify the last couple of weeks. We were itching to right the wrongs a bit."

RIVALS SQUARE OFF AGAIN

Bulldogs defender Lauren Spark has had the better of Sabrina Frederick-Traub in recent battles, but the Brisbane Lions star proved a handful this time around.

Frederick-Traub gave the Lions a focal point early, and her physical presence in attack made a difference.

She helped set up the first goal of the game after a boot in mid-air almost went through before Jordan Zanchetta finished it off.

Then, just seconds before the quarter-time siren, Frederick-Traub caught Spark out of position, and dragged down a mark near the top of the square.

She missed, as she did again from a similar spot in the following quarter.

But while she didn't kick a major - her return was three behinds - Frederick-Traub was a lively performer, and in trying to impact on her, the Bulldogs defenders allowed the smaller Lions too much freedom.

Lions forward Sabrina Frederick-Traub was the difference. Picture: AAP
Lions forward Sabrina Frederick-Traub was the difference. Picture: AAP

NOT KATIE'S NIGHT

Katie Brennan looked dangerous, but just couldn't get the space she needed.

In the end, the double-act defence team of Shannon Campbell and Kate Lutkins did a number on the Bulldogs' marquee player.

Brennan could manage only nine possessions for the game, finishing with 0.2

She was afforded little space all night, highlighted in the second term when Campbell run her down in a strong tackle.

The dilemma of whether to play Brennan deep in attack or further up the field as a launching pad was a topic of conversation all night.

Saturday night provided no firm answers, with Brennan getting little assistance from those around her.

Katie Brennan is dispossessed by Shannon Campbell. Picture: Getty Images
Katie Brennan is dispossessed by Shannon Campbell. Picture: Getty Images

LIONS MIDFIELD FIGHTBACK

Nat Exon promised a collective fightback from the Lions' midfield after what she termed an unaccountable performance against Melbourne last week.

She and Ally Anderson led from the front, in a response that would have delighted coach Craig Starcevich.

Anderson was the leading possession winner with 20, giving her team constant drive and putting pressure on the Dogs' defence.

Exon nailed the goal of the game - against the breeze - in the third term.

Just as the Dogs were mounting a rare challenge, she took hold of a loose ball, evaded two players, took two bounces and effectively put the ice on the game.