A CAPACITY crowd has witnessed St Kilda march into the AFLW competition but the majority of Saints supporters left their spiritual home at Moorabbin disappointed as the Western Bulldogs spoiled the party.
An estimated 8000 fans were on hand to see the Dogs send a warning to their premiership rivals with a convincing 25-point win on Sunday.
The visitors set up the 6.3 (39) to 2.2 (14) victory with three early goals as they made use of a stiff breeze at their backs to get the jump.
However there were sour notes.
An ankle injury put ruck Celine Moody out of the game before quarter-time and luckless young gun Isabel Huntington was helped off with a leg injury during the final term.
Huntington played just three games last year as she battled knee complaints and has managed just five games since drafted with pick No.1 in 2017.
Kim Rennie was called up to take on Moody’s ruck duties and serviced a midfield superbly led by star on-baller Ellie Blackburn.
New recruit Danielle Marshall became the first American player to grace the AFLW arena and celebrated in fine style, registering a goal with her first kick.
It was one of four in the first quarter for the Bulldogs as they broke the game open.
Perhaps nervous in their first AFLW outing, a young St Kilda line-up took time to work their way into the match.
The Saints eventually followed the lead of energetic teenager Molly McDonald, who kicked her side’s first goal to raucous noise from the Moorabbin faithful, and evened out the contest.
A huge third-quarter collision between Bulldog Hannah Scott and Saint Nadia Von Bertouch in front of the interchange benches illustrated both sides’ commitment.
The Bulldogs were challenged as debutantes Georgia Petrikios, Hannah Priest and Olivia Vesely worked tirelessly in the Saints’ attempt to play a run-and-carry style.
But the Dogs never looked like losing control as Blackburn, Scott and Kirsty Lamb used their experience to advantage.
No.1 draft pick Gabby Newton impressed on debut for the Bulldogs.
© AAP 2020
WESTERN BULLDOGS 4.1 5.1 5.2 6.3 (39)
ST KILDA 1.0 1.1 1.1 2.2 (14)
Goals: Western Bulldogs: B Toogood 2 A McCarthy B Hunt D Marshall K Lamb. St Kilda: J Sedunary M McDonald.
Best: Western Bulldogs: E Blackburn K Lamb B Toogood I Huntington N Ferres K Rennie. St Kilda: G Patrikios M McDonald O Vesely H Priest R Watt.
Umpires: Andrew Crosby, Dan Johanson, Tom Bryce.
Official Crowd: 8,000 at RSEA Park.