Bulldog Blackburn a genuine AFLW superstar

Oliver Caffrey
·2-min read

Western Bulldogs captain Ellie Blackburn has rocketed into AFLW league best-and-fairest contention after a stunning start to the season.

The star midfielder was her team's best in a close round-one loss to St Kilda, but Blackburn stepped it up on Friday night.

The 25-year-old put in one of the great individual performances in the competition's five-year history to guide the Bulldogs to a memorable six-point upset win against premiership fancies Carlton.

Going into the final term 10 points down, the Bulldogs seemed destined to slump to consecutive defeats to open the season after winning just one game in 2020.

But two inspiring goals from Blackburn, including the first where she burst out of the middle and converted a long shot, had the home crowd at the Whitten Oval in raptures.

It was the second week in a row she had finished the game strong.

"(Blackburn's) a special player. Last week I challenged her to kick goals; she didn't have any until three-quarter-time so she came out and kicked two in the last quarter," Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke said.

"That's a captain lifting and dragging the team with her when it was needed (against Carlton).

"That was a great individual effort but it was a great captain effort."

Before round two, Blackburn was rated as a $26 outsider to claim the league's highest individual honour, but she would have at least five votes, potentially six, already from the umpires.

She has some stiff competition for that award with Adelaide superstar Erin Phillips and Carlton's Madison Prespakis, who is the reigning league best-and-fairest, also starting the season strongly.

Burke has pleaded with his Bulldogs to enjoy the breakthrough victory, coming almost a year to the day since they won their opening game of 2020.