Operation: Stop Kearney

STOPPING former teammate Emma Kearney will be front of mind for the Western Bulldogs' midfield when they take on North Melbourne in Launceston on Friday night.

Kearney, the 2018 AFL Women's competition best and fairest crossed to the Kangaroos as part of the expansion club's list build after winning a flag with the Bulldogs.

Dogs midfielder Kirsty Lamb says halting Kearney's run will be crucial in stopping the rampaging Roos, who are undefeated and on top of the Conference A ladder with a percentage of 256.4 after two matches.

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"I'm good mates with 'Kearns'. She'll go about her business and hopefully we can slow her," Lamb told womens.afl.

"She's obviously their best player and we'll have to put a bit of work into how we can stop her. If we can limit her having the ball, it will go a long way to us winning.

"She loves a good yap but that's OK, we all know what we're going to get when we play Emma. She's a ripper…she yaps in a good way and there's never any malice in it. It's just a bit of fun."

From left to right: Bulldogs stars Aisling Utri, Kirsty Lamb and Bonnie Toogood

Lamb, 24, has had to take on greater midfield responsibility in the absence of Kearney. She was one of her side's best in the 18-point win against Geelong in round two, with 18 disposals, five tackles and four clearances. 

Her average disposal count has gradually increased each year, from 10 in 2017, 13 in 2018 and now 15 in 2019.

"Obviously 'Kearns' was the engine room in there (last year) and drove a lot of the plays, so (not having her there) probably puts a little bit of pressure on myself and Ellie (Blackburn) to lead," she said.

"Naomi Ferres, Ash Utri and Mon Conti have been rotating through and 'Gogo' (Angelica Gogos) was already in there last year, so she knows her stuff.

"The younger girls have been brilliant. They ask so many questions, and that's all you can ask of them. So far, so good."

The Bulldogs are somehow flying under the radar despite being reigning premiers, with North Melbourne and the vastly improved Fremantle capturing the headlines.

Their round two victory was a much more confident performance than the one-point win over Adelaide.

"Our composure with the ball in hand was much better. We went into our shell a little bit against Adelaide, and on [Saturday night] 'Grovesy' (coach Paul Groves) really pushed that he wanted us to play our brand, which is kick and mark, and there were patches of it that came off," Lamb said.

"When we do it, we feel good about it, so we just need to take those little things into (Friday night). We probably see now that we can do it and what it feels like to have a few people involved in a good passage of play."

Lamb took the entire VFLW season off after having a right shoulder reconstruction.

"I was playing with both shoulders gone last year. My left shoulder wasn't great and I was getting two injections a game to play, and then I injured the right shoulder in the second-last round."

The former all-rounder is now "happily retired" from cricket, having finished playing for both WBBL side Melbourne Renegades and state representative team Vic Spirit in early 2017.

"I work in cricket (in membership and events at the Australian Cricketers' Association) and I really enjoy my work but I'm really enjoying playing footy.

"Maybe one day I'll go back to cricket, but at this stage there's no chance.

"I was quite happy to give it away and have a real shot at footy."

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