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McLeod makes amends as Bulldogs overcome Blues in emotional win

Dogs captain Ellie Blackburn was the only other multiple goalkicker for the winning side in a standout, best-on-ground performance.

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She finished with 17 kicks, five handballs and five marks to go with her two majors, following up from 21 disposals and two goals in a round one loss.

“We came in with a real motivation, this is our home deck, we need to have a home-ground advantage and gee I’m so proud right now, it feels amazing,” an emotional Blackburn said after the win.

“The resilience in this group, there’s something special here. I love this football club, I love this group, the young talent we have here, they’re stars.”

For the second week in a row, the Blues looked exposed to speed inside their defensive 50, despite leading for most of the night.

Star forward Tayla Harris kept the visitors in the mix with two massive goals in the third quarter and an incredible contested mark late in the match to help her side close the margin, but the Dogs held on to claim a six-point victory.

The home side dominated in the first term, pounding in 13 inside-50s to three in the opening quarter, but managed just four behinds to the Blues’ one goal.

But the Blues’ tackling pressure was elite, making life difficult for Nathan Burke’s side, who didn’t really get their game going until the start of the final term.

Responding from 10 points down at the final change, the Dogs kicked three goals in the fourth quarter before holding on for a memorable win.

Proud dad

The trainer of champion racehorse Black Caviar, Peter Moody, enjoyed a special moment at the start of Friday night’s match, when two of his daughters – Breann and Celine – kicked off proceedings at the opening bounce.

The two opposing rucks had quite different nights, however.

Carlton ruck Breann had a significant impact across the evening including a massive moment early in the final term when she took a contested mark on the last line of defence while her team led by just four points, before kicking long and finding Harris. Breann finished with nine kicks, four handballs and four marks, while the Blues won the hitouts 24-17.

But it was Celine, despite having a quiet evening with just three touches, who was all smiles post-game after her side clawed over the Blues in a joyful win.

Prespakis class

Young gun Madi Prespakis again showed why she’s in an elite group of AFLW midfielders, driving her side in the narrow loss.

Georgia Gee chases Kirsty Lamb in Friday night’s AFLW clash between the Blues and Dogs.

Georgia Gee chases Kirsty Lamb in Friday night’s AFLW clash between the Blues and Dogs.Credit:Getty Images

Prespakis was outstanding despite the result, finishing with 14 kicks and 10 handballs as well as six tackles. Mimi Hill and Jess Hosking were also busy for the visitors, while father-daughter recruit Abbie McKay did not look out of place with 16 disposals.

Maiden goal

It was a memorable night for Bulldog Jessica Fitzgerald, who kicked her first goal in AFLW football in the second term of Friday night’s win.

The 18-year-old, in just her second game, collected a crucial intercept mark in the centre of the ground and stormed down the corridor, booting the ball forward before following up and finishing her good work with a sharp goal.

WESTERN BULLDOGS: 0.4 2.4 3.6 6.6 (42)
CARLTON: 1.0 3.3 5.4 5.6 (36)

GOALS
Western Bulldogs: Blackburn 2, McLeod 2, Huntington, Fitzgerald.
Carlton: Harris 2, O’Dea, Loynes, Gee.

BEST
Western Bulldogs: Blackburn, McLeod, Lamb, Fitzgerald, Georgostathis.
Carlton: Prespakis, Hosking, Hill, McKay, O’Dea.

INJURIES
Western Bulldogs: Hunt (left calf).

CROWD
3479 at Whitten Oval.

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