MELBOURNE found out the hard way that possession is only nine-tenths of the law as it slumped toits first loss of the AFLW season in a 13-point defeat to the Western Bulldogs.
Most of the major indicators on Sunday pointed towards a comfortable win for the Demons, who had 20 of the first 21 inside-50s, won more than twice as many clearances as their opponents and dominated contested possession.
But the plucky Bulldogs made the most of their opponents’ wastefulness in attack to post a 6.1 (37) to 2.12 (24) win, much to the delight of a 3180-strong crowd at Whitten Oval.
Isabel Huntington and Jessica Fitzgerald kicked two goals each for the home side, who turned for home five points in front and pulled away in the final term.
Ellie Blackburn had 16 disposals and four clearances for the Dogs and capped her strong display with a crucial goal early in the final quarter.
Melbourne gun Karen Paxman had 27 disposals and nine clearances, with Maddison Gay and Lily Mithen also busy.
But a string of missed opportunities close to goal ultimately proved costly.
Melbourne kicked with the breeze in the first quarter and was on top in the middle, but could not capitalise on their field position.
Kirsten McLeod converted a free kick to get the Dogs on the board before Paxman hit back for the Dees, who led by four points at the first break.
Midway through the second quarter, Melbourne held huge advantages in clearances (13-4), contested possessions (48-27) and inside-50s (20-1), but led by just five points.
The Bulldogs took their chances, scoring from their next two forward entries to hit the front when Fitzgerald kicked their second major from close range.
Huntington booted two goals either side of Shelley Scott’s first for the Dees as the two sides traded blows in a tight third quarter.
Blackburn’s superb goal on the run from 40m at the five-minute mark of the final term gave the Bulldogs breathing space and they hung on in a tight finish.
The Bulldogs’ win saw them win back the annual Hampson-Hardeman Cup.
(C) AAP 2021
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 2.1 4.1 6.1 (37)
MELBOURNE 1.4 1.6 2.8 2.12 (24)
Goals: Western Bulldogs: I Huntington 2 J Fitzgerald 2 E Blackburn K McLeod. Melbourne: K Paxman S Scott.
Venue: Whitten Oval.