THE WESTERN Bulldogs have moved to the top of the ladder after notching a convincing 30-point victory over winless Hawthorn at rain-ravaged Box Hill City Oval.
The undefeated Bulldogs (4-0) combined toughness with elite finishing on Saturday to prevail 6.1 (37) to 1.1 (7) in trying conditions.
Kirsty Lamb (25 disposals, seven clearances, one goal) was best-on-ground in her 50th game, combining with captain Ellie Blackburn to feed off the ruck supremacy of Alice Edmonds and dominate the Hawks in the clinches.
Hawthorn's 17-year-old sensation Jasmine Fleming (25 disposals, seven clearances) continues to blossom and was easily best for the hosts, who were also well served by the experienced Kaitlyn Ashmore.
After the first quarter finished in a scrappy, scoreless stalemate, the Bulldogs began to assert their authority in the second term before extending it in the third.
HAWKS v BULLDOGS Full match coverage and stats
The gulf between the expansion Hawks and the experienced Dogs became more and more obvious as the afternoon's slog wore on.
Blackburn broke the deadlock in the fourth minute of the second period with the first goal of the match, before Hawthorn quickly equalised when Ashmore converted after holding on to a juggling mark.
It would be the Hawks' only moment to celebrate.
After Rylee Wilcox and Gabby Newton built on the Bulldogs' advantage before half-time, the visitors continued to dominate in the third, as the relentless rain pelted down.
Back-to-back snapped goals out of stoppages from teen Heidi Woodley and Lamb made it five without a miss to the Bulldogs, an impressive strike-rate given the conditions.
Winger Isabelle Pritchard swung around on her left after a nifty hand-off from Eleanor Brown and nailed her maiden AFLW goal to start the fourth.
Hawthorn refused to wave the white flag and kept charging to the finish line but it was outclassed when it mattered.
Fitting match for milestone Dog
Kirsty Lamb is the definition of a quiet achiever. Selected with pick No.138 in the inaugural AFLW Draft, Lamb has only missed one game in the Bulldogs’ AFLW history, with that miss due to a one-match suspension picked up in her very first game. Lamb’s 25-disposal, five-tackle and one-goal game on Saturday showed why she – along with captain Ellie Blackburn - is the backbone of the Dogs’ setup. Her chemistry with Blackburn is borne from seven seasons playing alongside each other in the Dogs’ engine room, while the club lost star player after star player due to the League’s expansion. While some other players are flashier and command attention, Lamb plays unfussy and committed football and is virtually unstoppable when breaking away from stoppages. Her 50th match, played against the Hawks, was no different.
Both sides will feature in a Friday double-header at the Swinburne Centre next week, with the Bulldogs taking on North Melbourne in the first game before the Hawks face fellow expansion side Sydney a few hours later.
HAWTHORN 0.0 1.0 1.0 1.1 (7)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.0 3.0 5.1 6.1 (37)
Western Bulldogs: Blackburn, Wilcox, Newton, Woodley, Lamb, Pritchard
Hawthorn: Fleming, Ashmore, Gilroy
Western Bulldogs: Lamb, Blackburn, Fitzgerald, Pritchard, Edmonds
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Nil