The VFLW Tigers have suffered their first loss of the season, falling to the Western Bulldogs 4.4 (28) to 2.10 (22) on Saturday afternoon at VU Whitten Oval.
It was a slow start for both sides, with the Tigers held goalless for the first quarter and the Bulldogs managing just one major.
Highly-anticipated Richmond Women’s debutant Sabrina Frederick slotted Richmond’s first of the day in the second quarter, marking Katie Brennan’s pass then converting her set-shot with ease.
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One goal apiece in the second term saw Richmond hold a slender one-point lead at the main break, struggling to impact the scoreboard with eight behinds.
The Tigers dominated one-on-one contests and tackles in the first half, obtaining 41 tackles compared to the Bulldogs’ 21.
The Western Bulldogs’ opportunities for goals were thwarted by half-back Jenna Colwell, who was a brick wall in defence.
Tayla Stahl showcased her forward craft with a goal in the third term, but the Bulldogs quickly answered back. At three-quarter time, Richmond held onto a one-point advantage.
The final quarter was a fiery arm-wrestle. Relentless tackles saw the Tigers and Bulldogs scramble for the ball down the centre of the field, as the clock ticked over to the final siren.
The Bulldogs kicked the sole final-quarter goal, which was enough to cement a six-point victory for the home side.
VFLW coach Tom Hunter said the Tigers’ game took a toll when their pressure dropped away after half-time and the Bulldogs lifted.
“We knew they were strong around the contest, and they brought a pressure we probably haven’t experienced just yet,” he said.
“The second quarter was definitely played on our terms, and that reflected in the one-on-one contests and tackles.
“It just shows that when our [one-on-one contests and tackles] aren’t there, sides can work their way into the game against us.”
Hunter said it was exciting to finally have a chance to use Frederick on field the after months of work behind the scenes.
“For her to do the work that she’s done and to get the opportunity to represent the Yellow and Black, we’re really proud of how she’s going,” he said.
“We know she’s got so much growth in our program and in our system, so we’re excited to see her in the next few weeks.”
Akec Makur Chuot shone on the field, collecting 16 disposals and playing a crucial role in clearing the ball down the wing.
Hunter credited her versatility.
“She was fantastic. We tried her in a couple of different positions, just to see where we can get the best out of her,” he said.
“We know what she can do down back, and we really value that.”
The Tigers will return to the Swinburne Centre to face Melbourne University next Sunday, July 14th at 2.00pm, after defeating the Mugars by three points back in Round 4.
Hunter said the Tigers will continue to focus on playing to their strengths as they work towards the upcoming contest.
“We just need to make sure we bring what we’re good at, and we recognise what the opposition’s strengths are as well,” Hunter said.
“We’re ready for another great contest.”