AFL legend Nathan Burke has cursed his Bulldogs AFLW players, calling their pace of work and handling pressure “crap” during their heartbreaking five-point elimination final loss to Collingwood on Sunday.
The 323-game St Kilda great has been head coach of the Bulldogs since 2020 and had already publicly urged his side to advance their huge encounter with the Magpies at Victoria Park – a venue they had never won before.
After a first quarter of an hour in which the Dogs barely wailed, failed to score a run and allowed seven scoring shots, it’s safe to say Burke wasn’t happy.
As his team gathered around him for the usual quarter-time speech, an assistant saw a whiteboard held aloft, with the headline “RELAX” in giant capital letters.
The Bulldogs AFLW side faced some stern criticism from coach Nathan Burke in their elimination final loss to Collingwood in 15 minutes, with Burke calling their work pace and pressure ‘crap’
His strong feedback has not gone unnoticed by the broadcasters, with Channel 7 having vision on the whiteboard
‘Workrate: crap, chase: crap, voice: settel,’ read the brutal feedback on the whiteboard, with their within 50 spades also appearing to stand up to scathing criticism.
Oddly enough, a poo emoji was even depicted alongside the feedback — perhaps in the 52-year-old’s attempt to connect with his fledgling team.
Fans were both stunned and impressed by the relentless nature of the criticism, with one describing it as “shooting straight from the hip.”
“It hasn’t worked, whatever it is,” wrote one, while another sided with Burke: “It doesn’t matter what team game plan or what strategies you have if work pace and hunting pressure don’t happen!”
Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke comforts Bailey Hunt after the squad crashed out of the final with a heartbreaking five-point loss to the Magpies
Another targeted Burke in particular, calling it “nonsense leadership.”
The spray seemed to work for a while, with the Bulldogs responding by ramping up tackling pressure and ramping up their quick attack style against a very well-pierced Magpies outfit.
They stormed home 28 points down in the third quarter and kicked the only two goals in the final period before the Magpies held out at 5.10 (40) to 5.5 (35) in a thrilling encounter before a sold-out crowd at Collingwood’s traditional home.
It was a brutal match at times, with Magpies stars Ruby Schleicher, Sarah Rowe and Tarni Brown all taking heavy blows and heading under a cloud of injury to the side’s semi-final against Adelaide next Saturday.
Western Bulldogs players Ellie Blackburn and Richelle Cranston were devastated after the loss
Bold Bulldogs forward Deanna Berry even vomited at half time, before a massive collision knocked her out in the frenetic last quarter, with the nuggety small being aided by trainers and not returning to play.
Bulldogs hard nut Deanna Berry had a hamstring problem and threw up at half time before being knocked out in the last 15 minutes, while Heidi Woodley sustained a foot injury from play.
It was a mighty performance from the professional Collingwood outfit, who nearly ruined their poor stick accuracy, kicking five goals out of 15 scoring shots in perfect conditions.
A dejected Bulldogs side leaves the turf of Victoria Park after their final loss to elimination
Collingwood players celebrated one of Eliza James’s four goals (second from left) in their win
19-year-old Magpies star Eliza James played in her first final and lit up the big stage by scoring four goals – an AFLW finals record.
The ever-reliable Stacey Livingstone was mighty in the back 50 for Collingwood, while desperate attempts by Imogen Barnett and Joanna Lin in defense with play on the line were crucial to Magpies’ heart-wrenching victory.
Katie Lynch, Kirsty Lamb and ruck Alice Edmonds were strong for the Dogs, with skipper Ellie Blackburn solid, if not spectacular, despite a tight tap from Aishling Sheridan.
After saying Friday that he hated any talk that his young side was in this final just for “the experience,” Burke also begged his charge to step it up as they approached their first final game in four seasons.
After reminding them that there are never guarantees to play the final footy, and baking them at the quarter hour for not getting up, Burke clearly had a mixture of emotions.
Nathan Burke didn’t shy away from criticism, but admitted he was immensely proud of the way they fought back after a bad start after the loss
“I have never been involved in a team with so much guts,” said the proud coach at the press conference afterwards.
‘It’s a good base for us. That guts is something that few parties have… we now have to add all the other things that make a good football team.
“We could have won the game. Here, now, it still hurts. I wouldn’t even say it’s bittersweet — it’s still bitter at the moment and hopefully the sweet little bit later,” Burke said.