Bulldogs go back-to-back-to-back in Women’s Premier Division

Women’s Premier Division Grand Final

Written by Phoebe McWilliams

The UNSW Eastern Suburb Bulldogs have been able to complete a hat-trick of Premierships defeating Minor Premiers, Macquarie University by 23-points at Blacktown International Sportspark on Saturday afternoon.

The Bulldogs’ Sandra Janjetovic claimed the Deborah Rogers Trophy for Best on Ground after an impressive performance off the half-back line. Janjetovic’s intercept marking and transition from defence to attack stood out, along with her outstanding long-range goal from the 50-metre line.

Heading into the game the Dogs were the underdogs with Macquarie University defeating them in each of their three encounters throughout the year, including a seven-point victory just two weeks earlier in the Semi Final. However, it was clear early on that UNSW Eastern Suburbs relished the underdog title with an exceptional display in the first half.

The game began exactly to plan for Macquarie University with tall-forward Laura Russell kicking the opening goal from a free kick 30 metres out, straight in front. But the momentum quickly shifted the Bulldogs’ way as they piled on three of their own goals through midfielders Meagan Kiely and Tia Bool, and small-forward Roxy McGee.

The Bulldogs continued to fire in the second quarter. GWS Giants AFLW duo Jacinda Barclay and Rebecca Privitelli both contributed to the side’s goals tally, kicking one each from set shots. The Warriors’ Liz Fassone kept her side in touch with their only goal for the quarter. UNSW went into the half-time break with a 21-point lead.

The intensity of the game dropped slightly in the second half as the players battled the warm conditions. The Bulldogs slowed the game down to protect their lead, whilst Macquarie University continued to battle. Warriors Captain Amanda Farrugia led the charge in the midfield and was assisted off the half-back line by Ellie Brush whose work rate was outstanding. Farrugia kicked the only goal of the quarter, a much-needed Captains’ goal from a set shot 20 metres out.

UNSW Eastern Suburbs defenders, Janjetovic and Sera Kaukiono made life difficult for the Warriors when they went forward. The duo took a number of intercept marks and Kaukiono was outstanding on the Macquarie University’s Simone Freeman, keeping the tall forward goalless.

Despite the Warriors best efforts they weren’t able to claw back the lead in the final term. The fourth quarter was an arm wrestle, however two goals to the Bulldogs, including the 50-metre goal from Janjetovic, and the second to McGee put the game beyond doubt. It seems fitting that McGee kicked the final goal of the game after hinting at retirement earlier in the week.

The Bulldogs 23-point upset will ensure they go down in history. Three Premierships in three years in no easy feat, especially coming into the Grand Final as heavy underdogs. It was a performance that encapsulated teamwork and the importance of every player playing their role. Barclay’s heavy shepherd in the final quarter that allowed McGee to kick the final goal was a perfect example of this.

Congratulations to the Bulldogs.

Phoebe McWilliams is a current AFL Women’s player, recently signed by the Geelong Cats after two years spent with the GWS GIANTS. McWilliams is also a freelance writer for publications such as Inside Football Magazine. Following the 2018 NAB AFL Women’s season, McWilliams is playing for Hawthorn in the Swisse VFL Women’s competition in Victoria, while writing for AFL Sydney.

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