Dogs embrace underdog status ahead of North showdown


North crushed Carlton in round one and were too strong for Greater Western Sydney in the wet at Drummoyne Oval on Friday night.

Experienced Bulldogs defender Tiarna Ernst said after her side’s win over the Cats that North presented a stern test.

“They’re an impressive unit. They’re moving the ball incredibly well. So it’ll be a great challenge for us all. We’ll have to work on a few things, but it’ll be a challenge that we’re ready to have,” Ernst said.

The Queenslander suggested the Dogs were content to float under the radar and let the competition’s new kids  take the headlines.

“We recognise that probably within the media particularly, no one’s really rated us this year,” Ernst said.

“We like that, because that makes us the underdog again. So we don’t take offence to it, we just sort of relish that excitement that we can actually hopefully take them all by surprise again.”

As for Kearney, who was at Whitten Oval on Saturday night working for Channel Seven, Ernst was expecting some sledging.

“She’s an incredible competitor, and I’m sure there’ll be a little bit of banter, particularly in the midfield. We’ve got a couple of girls that can give back as much as she can give. I have no doubt she’ll have her best foot forward.”

North fans will be hoping for good news this week after emerging midfielder Ash Riddell hurt her ankle in the win over GWS. North said Riddell would be scanned during the week.

Having beaten Collingwood in their AFLW debut in round one, the Cats didn’t have enough to class to bridge a three-goal gap set up by the Bulldogs in the second quarter.

“I think it’s just pure inexperience,” Cats coach Paul Hood said.

“The Bulldogs have played at this ground and are now in their third season. They’ve had some tremendous success and a good method, and they tested ours a little bit.

“The fact they were able to put some scoreboard pressure on meant that maybe our possessions meant a little bit more and the players were a bit nervous.

“We’ll get better for the experience. It’s great to test ourselves against good teams and we look forward to coming out again next week and improving a little bit more.”

Geelong travel to Adelaide for a meeting with the Crows next Sunday.

Richelle Cranston will return from suspension for the game, while Geelong insist captain Melissa Hickey isn’t far away from playing her first game for the Cats. Hickey is in the closing stages of her recovery from a knee reconstruction, which followed an injury sustained while playing for Melbourne last year.

Geelong veteran Aasta O’Connor was set to be assessed for a leg injury that hampered her on Saturday night.

Hood also said No.1 draft pick Nina Morrison was going “as well as can be expected” after rupturing her ACL at training last week.

“She’s a really resilient person and she’s already got a plan in place as to how she’s going to get back better than ever,” Hood said.

Daniel is an Age sports reporter.

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