A narrow six-point defeat to the Western Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon has put the Southern Saints’ ambitions of another finals berth in doubt.

The home side were pipped at the post following a gridlocked opening half at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval, with three-goals-to-one in the second half seeing the Bulldogs run out six-point winners 3.9 (27) to 5.3 (33).

Dale Robinson’s charges had their opportunities with seven minor scores after half-time, and despite a goal in the dying moments from Gabriella De Angelis and a clean break from the centre seconds later, the result ultimately fell in favour of the Bulldogs.

The Southern Saints must now win its next two matches against fellow top-six challengers North Melbourne and Carlton – plus rely on a handful of other results to swing their way – to pin down a place in the finals.

VFLW first-gamer Tyanna Smith (18 disposals, 11 tackles, one goal) had a prominent say on the contest alongside Molly McDonald (17 disposals, six tackles), while Hannah Priest (18 disposals) , Alice Burke (20 disposals) – particularly in the final term across half-back – and Southern Saints debutant Jayde Van Dyk (22 disposals, eight marks) were robust in the defensive end.

The Bulldogs’ defence was just as sturdy throughout the day, withstanding the press of their opposition’s attack on multiple occasions.

A brilliant set shot from Smith eventually cracked the dam wall on the stroke of half-time, putting the Southern Saints up by two points.

Although the home side owned majority of the attacking play, three consecutive misses to open the third term provided the Bulldogs with the perfect counterattack.

The visitors’ ability to launch off half-back and open up the ground proved damaging as Annabel Scott, Brooke Hards and Caitlin Sargent regained scoreboard control and made the most of their opportunities.

Alexandra Hynes (33 hit-outs, six tackles) battled well in the ruck alongside the hard-hitting Hannah Stuart (25 disposals), while two-time Best & Fairest Georgia Patrikios (19) played most of the game across the half-forward flank in what was her debut outing for the Southern Saints.

At the conclusion of Round 12, the Saints and Blues sit a game outside the eight on 20 points, with a considerable percentage advantaging the former.

The Southern Saints will host North Melbourne on Sunday 30 May at Trevor Barker Beach Oval in a must-win clash for both sides.

SOUTHERN SAINTS  1.0  2.2  2.7  3.9 (27)
WESTERN BULLDOGS  1.0  2.0  4.3  5.3 (33)

Southern Saints:
Smith, De Angelis, Harris
Western Bulldogs: Hards, Asciak, Scott, Sargent, Georgostathis

Southern Saints:
Smith, Priest, McDonald, Stuart, Burke, Hynes, Van Dyk
Western Bulldogs: Marshall, Vale, Hartwig, Georgostathis, Scott, Pritchard