Port Melbourne VFLW's premiership defence has come to a close at the hand of the Western Bulldogs, going down by 12 points in the first semi final at Mission Whitten Oval on Saturday.

Bouncing back after being outplayed by Williamstown in the qualifying final, the Bulldogs earned another crack at the Seagulls on neutral turf as their multi-pronged forward set-up had too many weapons for the Borough defence and Port’s injuries left it without a forward target of its own.

The ball pinged around at a rate of knots in the opening term but both backlines were on top and it took a Bulldogs’ set play to create space for VFLW games record holder Mia-Rae Clifford to mark on the lead and guide through the only score of the first quarter.

The Bulldogs also nailed the only goal of the second term through the sheer workrate of Jaimi Tabb, who took the advantage off a Renee Saulitis holding the ball decision, delivered to Imogen Milford at the top of the square and followed up to receive the handball back and slam it through.

The game was effectively over midway through the third term when Saulitis roved a pack and then Essendon 2022 premiership co-captain Clifford got on the end of a Tallia Pulcino pass for her second goal.

Ava Seton and Bella Stutt finally put the Borough on the board with two wonderful goals either side of the three-quarter time break, but the damage had been done.

Some terrific footwork along the behind line from Mary Sandral put the exclamation mark on the victory, leaving Kaitlyn O’Keefe to grab a consolation goal with the last kick of the day.

Bulldogs ruck Keeley Hardingham was best afield with an outstanding show that netted game highs in disposals (23), marks (seven), tackles (11) and hitouts (23), although her Borough opponent Molly Denahy

Maloney (17 disposals, 26 hitouts) was also terrific for her team as she stared down the daunting task of taking on the best tall in the competition.

Tannah Hurst seems made for finals, upping her career-best 12 disposals from last week to a performance that netted 17 possessions, six tackles and six inside 50m entries as a crucial link-up off half-forward.

Bulldogs skipper Dom Carbone (17 disposals, six tackles, five entries) was tireless in the middle and Ash Snow and Courtney Ugle starred in the backline with 15 touches each and several important intercepts.

Eloise Ashley-Cooper (19 disposals, six clearances, eight tackles) and Lauren Caruso (17 disposals, seven clearances, 11 tackles) worked tirelessly to keep the Borough alive.

Georgia Booth (16 disposals, 10 tackles) gave nothing up cheaply and Seton worked her way into the game to finish with 16 touches, five clearances, nine tackles and a goal.

But the Borough had no recognised goal kickers in the absence of Emily Harley (achilles), Jessie Williams (concussion) and Beth Wilson (knee), while the tackling presence of Courteney Bromage (knee) was also sorely missed.


WESTERN BULLDOGS              1.0        2.2        4.3        5.4 (34)
PORT MELBOURNE                  0.0        0.1        1.2        3.4 (22)