The Southern Saints remain a game clear in second place following a 15-point win over the Western Bulldogs at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval on Sunday afternoon.
Key talls Kate Shierlaw and Courtney Munn, along with defender Clara Fitzpatrick were all instrumental in the 5.6 (36) to 3.3 (21) victory.
Key forward Caitlin Greiser played a starring role, booting three goals and also setting up an important Tara Bohanna major.
The Saints’ defence was tested in the early stages of the game as the Bulldogs looked to create space inside their 50, but some smart reading by Samantha Johnson, Fitzpatrick and Alison Drennan denied the visitors any chance of threatening on the scoreboard.
The Saints then found a way to keep hold of the ball and started to edge their way forward, locking it inside their own 50 and often creating space but only had the one behind to show for it.
Five minutes before the end of the first quarter, the Saints finally got their reward as Alison Brown kicked the first major of the match from long range.
The Saints added another just before the quarter time siren, as Greiser took a strong mark and made no mistake with the set shot.
The Saints’ couldn’t have asked for a better start to the second term as three minutes in Bohanna extended their lead to 19 points after Greiser played her into space.
The Bulldogs looked to go through the corridor, but a brilliant run down tackle by Greiser denied the chance to do so.
Against the run of play, the Bulldogs goaled to cut the deficit to 14 points at the main break.
The Bulldogs threw everything at the Saints at the start of the third term but great defensive efforts from Kelly Thompson, and Fitzpatrick, kep the visitors at bay.
A Samantha Ryan kick off the half back flank paved the way for a fantastic team goal, which went from one end of the ground to the other, with as Greiser bagging her second and extending the Saints’ lead to 20 points.
The Saints’ defence was under pressure again as the Bulldogs sealed the ball at their end for the early stages of the final quarter.
Two quick goals cut the margin to just eight points but the Saints wouldn’t relent.
After absorbing the pressure, it was Greiser who put the icing on the cake with her third goal just before the full time siren.
Head coach Peta Searle said she was pleased with how the team matched the Bulldogs, particularly in the contests.
“It was a very impressive win,” she said.
“They were a good side and had some really strong AFLW players and a lot of premiership players.
“They are a contested side and we always knew the contest part was going to be difficult, and I think we certainly neutralised and got our fair share of clearances ourselves.”
One of the pleasing aspects of the game for Searle was how calm and composed the defence was.
“They stood up strong,” she said.
“They threw everything at us and their intensity went up another level in that third quarter and for us to absorb it and then go back at them was really good.
“Apart from giving a few free kicks away which was there only scoring method it goes to show that apart from a few technique things that our method behind the ball is pretty good.”
The Saints now host the Casey Demons in the Pride Match in round 12 and Searle is expecting a tough contest.
“The girls will take a lot of pride in that match as it means a lot to most of them,” she said.
“It’s important that we take a lot of belief out of this game, but also to know what it is like to work hard to win together and they did that.
“Hopefully they will be ready to go again next week.
“Casey have been edging away and playing better footy as well, so we have to be on our toes and ready to go.”