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Melbourne Football Club

Match report: Women's All-Stars

Women's match: Highlights The best female footballers from around the country clash at the Whitten Oval as the Western Bulldogs defeat Melbourne.

MELBOURNE has gone down to the Western Bulldogs by 39 points in a fittingly freewheeling final Women’s AFL Exhibition Match.

On a glorious spring evening in front of 6,365 people at VU Whitten Oval, a withering second-half burst from Bulldog full-forward Moana Hope proved decisive as the Dogs came home with their second win over Melbourne in 2016 and claimed the Hampson-Hardeman Cup.

From the first bounce, the crowd was treated to a fast, uncompromising style of football that convinced all and sundry that the 2017 national women’s competition will hit the ground running as a fully-fledged spectacle.

Melbourne dominated the second quarter but were wasteful in front of goal, kicking just 2.5 to allow the Bulldogs to hold a slender half time lead. The contest remained evenly paced until halfway through the third quarter when Hope kicked four goals in seven minutes to gift her side an unassailable five-goal three quarter time buffer, earning the Collingwood marquee selection the Best on Ground Award.

The Demons were far from overwhelmed. The strong marking of dynamic Queensland forward duo Tayla Harris and Sabrina Frederick-Traub providing plenty of material for the highlight reel, with Harris’ 50 metre bomb for goal in the second quarter sure to get plenty of airtime in the near future. Further up the ground, Western Australian stars Chelsea Randall and Ebony Antonio starred in the clinches with their fierce attack on the ball in the air and at ground level while Karen Paxman was Melbourne’s highest possession winner with 26 touches.

The result was a disappointing end to the Melbourne career of coach Michelle Cowan. However, echoing the sentiments of many at the ground, Cowan says the match was ultimately a chance to reflect on how far women’s football has come over the last few years.

“Whilst it’s disappointing not to get the result we look at the bigger picture and have a really open mind about the bigger picture and what tonight was about. It was about celebrating women’s footy and where we’re heading.”