THE big day is finally here, where the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane Lions will face off in the AFLW Grand Final. However it has come with much controversy, as Bulldogs captain, Katie Brennan is set to miss the match through suspension. Despite this, the game will undoubtedly by a high-pressure, high-intensity hit-out with both clubs searching for their first AFLW premiership.
Western Bulldogs vs. Brisbane
Saturday March 23, 12:35pm at Ikon Park
The second season of AFLW comes to a close on Saturday afternoon as the top-of-the-table Western Bulldogs square off against last year’s runners-up in the Brisbane Lions for the ultimate prize. Despite finishing on top of the ladder, the Bulldogs will not host the game at VU Whitten Oval, with the contest being played at Ikon Park to accommodate a larger crowd.
The Bulldogs come off an incredibly hard-fought win last week against Melbourne, thanks to late game heroics from Brooke Lochland earning them the right to host the grand final. They enter the game without their captain Katie Brennan, who will miss the game due to suspension, as a result of a dangerous tackle in the last quarter against Melbourne. Whilst this will be a big obstacle to overcome for the Dogs, Brennan did miss three rounds earlier in the season, and the Dogs still managed to win two of those three games. Their midfield will once again be key for victory and they will be hoping for a big contribution from Emma Kearney and Ellie Blackburn. With the Lions possessing a forward line which contains the likes of Sabrina Frederick- Traub and Jess Wuetschner, the Bulldogs defence will have their hands full. The game last week against Melbourne saw Lauren Spark announce herself on the scene, keeping Tegan Cunningham possession-less and limiting her impact on the game, and she will be significant once again on Saturday.
Brisbane entered the final round in fifth place and were in desperate need of a number of results to go their way. The Lions took care of their own business, defeating the Giants by such a large margin that they surpassed Melbourne on percentage. They were then assisted by their opponents on Saturday, with the Bulldogs defeating Melbourne and Collingwood defeating Adelaide. This provides them an opportunity for redemption, having lost the inaugural AFLW grand final to the Crows. Sabrina Frederick-Traub was unbelievable again last week and looked unstoppable in her four-goal effort to take the game away from the Giants, and she will no doubt look to do the same again. A key part of their success all year has been the play of Emily Bates through the midfield and she will be needed to counteract the star power that the Bulldogs possess.
The stage is set for what should be a fantastic game. The Bulldogs look to complete an incredible turnaround from where they were 12 months ago, whilst the Lions look to bounce back from last year’s disappointing loss in the big game.