Molloy, having played mostly midfield recently, was moved to full forward and caused the Bulldogs problems from the very start of the match.
She kicked two goals in the opening quarter, the first by running onto a Bonnici kick into the forward 50 and the second a fantastic mark and set shot.
Having played in defence during her first AFLW season and then mostly midfield this season, with an injury keeping her out of 2019, Molloy’s strength, leading patterns and body positioning on Sunday were a reminder to the competition of her attacking power.
Collingwood gave the Bulldogs no time to settle into the game, beginning in menacing fashion. Their midfield overpowered the Bulldogs’ engine room time and time again. When the Dogs did win a clearance, Collingwood’s defence – without Ash Brazill – was impenetrable. Jordyn Allen stepped up and played loose in defence in Brazill’s place.
The Dogs had shots on goal in the first term, one from Kirsty Lamb, but it was rushed, and they should have had another via captain Ellie Blackburn. However Blackburn tried to run around Sharni Layton on the mark and it did not go well.
The much improved ruck wrapped the smaller and swifter Blackburn up in a tackle, a play that typified the pressure the Pies exerted on the Bulldogs.
The Dogs have been known for their patient brand of footy, a chip and mark style that brought them a flag in 2018, but it has not worked this season and certainly did not work in Morwell on Sunday.
They were far too slow and sloppy when kicking the ball and even when they did find a target, the Pies were way too aggressive in their tackling and defensive positioning for it to mean anything.
With no Bonnie Toogood (PCL), the Bulldogs tried their best defender Hannah Scott up forward, but there simply was not enough supply for her to influence the contest.
Lamb and Kirsten McLeod kicked the Bulldogs’ first two goals of the game in the third quarter, the first goal the result of good forward pressure and the second because of quick ball movement.
Although the Bulldogs were able to better restrict Collingwood’s inside-50 count after the main break they still couldn’t stop the goals.
Sophie Alexander kicked two in quick succession to snuff out the Bulldogs’ comeback, the first on the end of a razor-sharp, coast-to-coast attack through the centre of the field.
The highlight of that was Lambert’s kick into space, which opened up the forward 50.
Nathan Burke’s Bulldogs threw caution into the breeze in the final term, or more accurately with the breeze, and tried to use the wind and their speed to mount a comeback.
They had nothing to lose and it resulted in another goal to McLeod, a fantastic induvidual effort crashing through Collingwood defenders and then gathering her tap on to score.
Collingwood travel to Queensland to play the Brisbane Lions next round while the Bulldogs will take on Fremantle at home.
Anthony is a sports reporter at The Age.