1. Pride comes home – There were cheers, jeers, choruses of “ball” and even fireworks at Whitten Oval. A healthy crowd rode the highs and lows as both sides engaged in an arm wrestle to kick off Pride Round. It’s been a hard twelve months for Melburnians and even more so for AFLW fans left in limbo. Pride Round’s most anticipated matchup felt like a significant shot in the arm for all involved, there was plenty of joy and relief when the final siren sounded.
2. Blues’ best show glimpses – It wasn’t as skilled as last Friday’s Moorabbin clash between the St Kilda Saints and the Bulldogs, but the margin did mirror Thursday’s season starter featuring the Collingwood Magpies and Carlton. This was a real scrap punctuated by moments of brilliance; none more brilliant for the vanquished than Maddy Prespakis and Tayla Harris.
Prespakis is coming off a stupendous season where she was crowned the league’s best and fairest, this year her role has been tested early. On a night when Ellie Blackburn turned it on big time, the industrious Prespakis racked up 20 of her own touches while evading swarms of Dogs. As for Harris, look no further than her raking goal from outside 50 in the third term alongside her clutch of high marks. 0-2 is not an easy start to come back from, but Daniel Harford’s side will need these two to fire consistently under duress if they are to make finals
3. Bulldogs may have found the list sweet spot – After being raided in successive seasons of league expansion, the once feared Bulldogs have battled to keep their head above water in recent seasons. While the loss of players hasn’t dried up completely (Irish jet Aisling McCarthy was one, making a move to the West Coast Eagles ahead of the season) they are seemingly no longer at risk of saying farewell to players who go on to become opposition skippers.
While captain Ellie Blackburn put on an absolute clinic by once again demonstrating her incredible ability to influence games all over the park, many younger teammates played far more than cameo roles. Draftee Jessica Fitzgerald hit the scoreboard twice from her 14 touches and four marks, while fellow youngsters Elisabeth Georgostathis and Gabrielle Newton also made their marks.
The Bulldogs have indicated that future silverwear is in their mid-term plans with this list – perhaps like their famous 2016 men’s side, the future is closer than it looks.
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