AFL

Western Bulldogs to take on Brisbane Lions in AFLW Grand Final as regular season wraps up

Brittany Gibson of the Lions celebrates scoring a goal during the round seven AFLW match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Brisbane Lions at Blacktown International Sportspark on March 16, 2018 in Sydney, Australia.

It took until the final siren of the last round to secure a place in the AFLW Grand Final next week, but the two clubs to meet in the decider have been locked in.

The Western Bulldogs will host the Brisbane Lions at Ikon Park on Saturday 24 March in what is already shaping up to be a thrilling contest in the sophomore season of the AFL Women’s competition. The minor premiers, Western Bulldogs will now have “home ground” advantage against the Lions, due to the capacity being more than twice of VU Whitten Oval being just 10,000. It is possible to be a record crowd to break the 24,568 previously set at the venue for the historic first match last year.

As Brisbane players watched on as a group from the Gabba, the Crows were held to a one-point ransom at three-quarter time to the Pies at Olympic Park Oval. Unfortunately for Adelaide supporters, that lead extended to 21 points at the final siren as the party-pooper Pies produced one of their best quarters of the year.

With six clubs a chance to make the grand final at the beginning of the round, the road to premiership glory was decided late for the Crows as they were spoiled on the road, to hand second-place to the Lions and fall down to 5th place on the ladder.

GWS Giants 3.6 (24) def by Brisbane Lions 10.4 (64)

Although the Giants were 3rd at the start of the round, a win could have secured them a grand final berth with the top two to play the next evening. However, with the Lions in 5th place they knew they needed to win, and to win big. They recorded the highest score in their history, scoring more than more than six goals for the first time after 15 matches.

Coming off back-to-back losses, Brisbane were outstanding in defeating the GWS Giants by 40 points to hold on to 2nd place until the final match result. Sabrina Frederick-Traub booted 4 goals, while Jess Wuetschner kicked 3 in tandem. The Giants had a sniff early on with the first goal of the game to Britt Tully, but it was all one-way traffic thereafter for the Lions in front of 2253 spectators at Blacktown Oval.

Alex Anderson was instrumental with 25 disposals, along with Emily Bates (21 touches), and captain Emma Zielke. Alicia Eva can hold her head up high with 18 disposals in a heavy loss.

Fremantle Dockers 9.5 (59) def Carlton Blues 6.12 (48)

The battle for the unwanted wooden spoon fell to Carlton as they finished the season on a low-note at Fremantle Oval on Saturday afternoon.

A big final quarter for the Dockers allowed them to run away with the victory in front of a home crowd, thanks to the tireless work of captain Dana Hooker all day. Lisa Webb and Eb Antonio were serviceable as they finished in 7th place for the second successive year.

A huge collision between Fremantle’s Hayley Miller and Carlton’s Tayla Harris in the third quarter resulted in play being stopped, before both players returned to the match after some bruising and being winded. Running back with the flight of the ball, Miller’s courage has been lauded by commentators across the industry.

Carlton dominated the ruck all day (41-12 hitouts) thanks to Breann Moody, but every other major category went to the way of Freo. Inaccuracy cost the Blues with 12 behinds, but Tayla Harris (15 disposals, 2 goals) and Sarah Hosking (15 disposals, 9 tackles) were among the best players for the Blues.

Western Bulldogs 5.3 (33) def Melbourne Demons 4.7 (31)

A nailbiter on Saturday night saw the Bulldogs defeat the Melbourne Demons by 2 points with a late goal by Brooke Lochland sealing the win. The top-of-the-table clash was easily the match of the round both before and after the game, as a right to host the grand final next week was on the line.

Missing vice-captain Mel Hickey to injury, the Dees got away early in front of more than 7,500 fans at VU Whitten Oval, but a knee injury to Sarah Lampard (who was carried off early in the match) left the Demons one short on the interchange bench for the majority of the match.

Emma Kearney (20 disposals, one goal) and Jenna Bruton (18 disposals, 10 tackles) led the way for the Dogs, while Lauren Pearce dominated the ruck (21 hitouts) for Karen Paxman (22 disposals) for the Demons.

With six lead changes happened throughout the match, the Dogs got the ascendancy with 33 to 19 inside 50s, but both sides had no multiple goalkickers.

Aliesha Newman had what could have been one of the best goals of the year for Melbourne with several running bounces from the wing to the goalsquare, only to be left short-changed with a dismal kick from point-blank range going through for a behind under enormous pressure.

A controversial call for a high tackle for the Dogs midway through the last quarter resulted in a set shot 20 metres out, and resulting in a goal to give the Dogs a sniff of what was to be a home grand final next week.

The Demons again finish their second successive season in 3rd place and missing out on a grand final by percentage, with an unfulfilled list that will be ruing their opportunities.

Collingwood Magpies 8.5 (53) def Adelaide Crows 4.8 (32)

In desperate scenes on Sunday, the Crows needed a win to defend their title as reigning premiers of the competition. But it wasn’t to be, as the Crows were upset at Olympic Park in front of 2,3000 attendees, going down to the Pies by 21 points.

Arguably saving their best for last, the Pies were behind by 10 points at half-time, before using the wind to their advantage in the second half. With Jasmin Garner’s third goal with three minutes to go, the Pies were able to secure the result thanks to five unanswered goals in the second half. Adelaide couldn’t manage any more than two behinds after half-time.

A head knock to vice-captain Chelsea Randall led to a concussion test, where she did not take part in the match after half-time, leaving the Crows a player short. It was a blow for Adelaide as she was leading the way with 14 disposals (all kicks) and five marks at the time.

Coincidentally, the two clubs also faced off in the last round last year when the Crows got through to the 2017 grand final by percentage after a four-goal win. However, with Brisbane relying on Collingwood to win this year, the Crows had their own destiny if they could take their chances.

Jaimee Lambert (19 disposals, seven tackles), Jess Duffin (18 disposals, 5 tackles), Garner (16 disposals, 3 goals), and Christina Bernardi (2 goals) were solid all day for Collingwood, and

Playing on one leg for most of the season, Erin Phillips (17 disposals, 4 tackles) did her part with Ebony Marinoff  (17 disposals, 8 tackles) but the Crows will be left thinking “what if” on their flight home to Adelaide.

Although it’s relatively unknown territory for both sides, the Lions have played at Ikon Park twice (one win, one draw), while the Dogs have played at the venue just once in a one-goal loss last year to Carlton. And we can be assured there are no lighting problems, with a day-game and a 1:05 pm start. The match will be free entry much like every other game (excluding the record crowd opening of Optus Stadium), leaving a potential lockout on the cards again.

Like what you’ve read? You can follow the author on Twitter at @damopeck.

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