On an evening when few players could hit the target, especially close to goal, the Western Bulldogs will be praising Bonnie Toogood, whose clinical finishing made sure they avoided an upset against Geelong.
Toogood kicked two goals and set up another from her 15 possessions as the Bulldogs struggled to convert their chances in a 3.10 (28) to 2.4 (16) win at Whitten Oval on Friday night.
The Bulldogs’ Celine Moody is tackled by Georgie Prespakis of the Cats.Credit:AFL Photos
Both defences were desperate and took chances to spoil, smother or push a forward out of position although the Bulldogs also missed three free-kicks at goal which would have made the margin far more secure.
You could not question Geelong’s effort, nor their application but they don’t yet have the talent or running power to consistently win the ball and surge it into the forward line.
Still, they got within 12 points in the final term, with Rebecca Webster their best player with 22 possessions.
The Bulldogs could only manage two behinds in the opening term despite having several chances to put majors on the board against a Cats side that was spirited but struggled to push behind half-forward.
Bonnie Toogood (right) and Elizabeth Snell celebrate a goal.Credit:AFL Photos
Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke, according to Fox Footy, put his forwards on notice at quarter-time, telling them to stop wasting chances to lift and his side to do likewise as it wasn’t Friday night training.
Burke’s side was much more direct and deliberate to start the second term, locking the ball in their forward line and continuing to find openings, with Toogood marking 25 metres out and kicking the opening goal with 10 minutes left in the second term.
Toogood turned provider for the second goal as some relentless pressure led by Sarah Hartwig resulted in Toogood feeding Elisabeth Georgostathis, who kicked a running goal as the Dogs’ lead grew to 16-0.
Geelong’s best chance came late in the term when Jordan Ivey’s goal-bound kick from close range was parried away for a behind.
The Cats deserved a goal late in the second term but the Bulldogs came up with desperate efforts to take a 16-2 lead into half-time.
The Bulldogs’ inaccuracy close to goal continued but they extended the lead when Toogood drew a 50-metre penalty from a Cats player for encroachment, which put her close enough to kick her second goal and give them a 27-2 lead at the final change.
Geelong had their best patch of the game to start the last term, winning the ball in the middle and surging forward with Chloe Scheer grabbing the ball 40 metres from goal and thumping it through the middle for their first major.
The Cats then had a second goal in a minute as Phoebe McWilliams took a mark inside 50 and then was brought to the goal square after Scheer was held closer to goal, leaving it 27-15 with 10 minutes to play.
Ellie Blackburn tackles Nina Morrison of the Cats.Credit:AFL Photos
Blackburn fires up
Bulldogs captain Ellie Blackburn has long been one of the league’s most consistent performers but her first term was a quiet one, with only two possessions and very little influence.
That all changed after quarter-time as she posted 11 possessions for the term and was a constant around the ball as the Bulldogs made their move. She finished among their best with 22 possessions.
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