Sport Bulldogs star Blackburn relishing chance to make AFLW grand final

08:51  09 march  2018
08:51  09 march  2018 Source:   The Age

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It’s all looking pretty good for the Western Bulldogs . They sit atop the AFLW ladder by a game and have a whopping percentage that should see them into a Grand Final . It seems a bit silly to discuss Carlton’s chances of making the Grand Final considering they are so far out of serious contention.

The Bulldogs begin their 2018 AFLW campaign against Fremantle tomorrow and are aiming to execute a more Outside of the Bulldogs , which two teams do you think will make the grand final ? Who’s the coach’s pet? Katie Brennan: Maybe Ellie Blackburn . I’m not sure, that’s a hard one.

Ellie Blackburn has been one of the Bulldogs best in 2018.© Adam Trafford/AFL Media Ellie Blackburn has been one of the Bulldogs best in 2018.

Western Bulldogs star Ellie Blackburn says she is excited but not daunted about her side's clash with GWS, which headlines a weekend of AFLW games that will all have huge ramifications on 2018's grand final.

Seven of the competition's eight teams can still technically qualify for a top two spot - and thus a grand final berth - with two games remaining.

Blackburn's Bulldogs (16 points) sit top of the table, four premiership points ahead of Brisbane and Melbourne (12) who are seperated by percentage. GWS and Adelaide (10) are two points behind the Lions and the Demons, while Fremantle and Carlton (8) can make the top two, but it is very unlikely.

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At Moe, Western Bulldogs star midfielder, Ellie Blackburn was able to gather 17… This elite Melbourne trio continues to make waves in the competition, and in our Team of the Week, with all three making their way into our best 21 yet again. 2018 Ladders. AFLW . Pos. Team.

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The Bulldogs play the in-form Giants on Saturday evening in Canberra, with a win all-but-securing a spot in what would be a maiden grand final.

It remains unclear if the Bulldogs will play the grand final at the Whitten Oval should they finish top of the ladder. The Age understands the club and the AFL are currently in discussion regarding those arrangements, should they need to be made.

Despite the enormity of Saturday's game, Blackburn said it had been business as usual at the Bulldogs, who have clearly been the best side in the AFLW's second edition.

"It’s about what we have to do this week," Blackburn told The Age. "You know I think that is one thing we have done really well is that we have avoided having the grand final conversations. Last year we focused a lot on ‘what do we need to do to get to the grand final?’ But this year it’s more about ‘what do we need to do to win this game, this week?’

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Ruck-rover: Ellie Blackburn (Western Bulldogs ) Key stats: 17 disposals (12 kicks, 5 handballs), 64.7% DE, 4 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 3 one-percenters, 1 goal Previous TOTW: R1 (RR), R3 (HFF), R4 (HBF) With Emma Kearney being How the remaining contenders make the 2018 AFLW Grand Final .

"We worry about the first quarter rather than the whole game. We have approached it really differently in terms of that and we are focused on the game on GWS for this week."

Blackburn said GWS would provide an incredibly tough challenge on the weekend and highlighted Giants' midfield stars Courtney Gum and Alicia Eva as the players that needed to be stopped.

"They’re a really great team and they’re going to move the ball really quickly and we rate their group," she said. "Throughout the pre-season the girls that they picked up are really talented footballers and they play a very exciting brand to watch."

GWS have defeated Collingwood and Fremantle and drawn with defending premiers Adelaide in the past three weeks after losing their first two games of 2018.

Blackburn credited the Bulldogs coaching staff for their resurgence from 2017's sixth finish to their current standing at the top of 2018's ladder.

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Ellie Blackburn , Emma Kearney and Aasta O'Connor are also not averse to floating forward from The two other teams with realistic shots at making the Grand Final are Adelaide and the Giants. Bulldogs ruck Aasta O'Connor, speaking on the official AFLW podcast Trail Blazers, said it might be

The Bulldogs star burst out of the middle from the first centre bounce and bombed long to Lochland, who took the mark on her chest and kicked a regulation set shot. How the remaining contenders make the 2018 AFLW Grand Final .

"As a playing group we have learnt to really trust one another and trust what the coaches have put in place for us and know that they’ve worked really hard behind-the-scenes to make the best game plan for us," she said."We have really trusted that process and executed it well because of that."

That game plan has focused on quick and precise kicking and putting a premium on possession.

The Bulldogs can still make the grand final if they lose, while a loss for GWS would all but extinguish their hopes, depending on other results.

Skipper Katie Brennan remains out injured for the Bulldogs, but the club are hopeful she will return for next week's game against Melbourne.

AFLW ladder (all teams have played five games)

  1. Western Bulldogs 16 points, 176.8 per cent
  2. Brisbane 12, 121.8 per cent
  3. Melbourne 12, 102.7 per cent
  4. GWS 10, 102.7 per cent
  5. Adelaide 10, 98.8 per cent
  6. Fremantle 8, 80.4 per cent
  7. Carlton 8, 50.5 per cent
  8. Collingwood 4, 95.6 per cent

Round 6 (this weekend)

Adelaide vs Fremantle (Friday night)

Brisbane vs Collingwood (Saturday afternoon)

GWS vs Western Bulldogs (Saturday night)

Carlton vs Melbourne (Sunday afternoon)

Round 7

GWS vs Brisbane (Friday night)

Fremantle vs Carlton (Saturday afternoon)

Western Bulldogs vs Melbourne (Saturday night)

Collingwood vs Adelaide (Sunday afternoon)

Cora Staunton: The greatest footballer playing in Australia that you've probably never heard of .
She's Gaelic football royalty two games from leading an AFLW team to a first, improbable crown. "One of the greatest Irish sportswomen of all-time," according to those who know.

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