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Giants defender Barr sinks Bulldogs

Nicola Barr celebrates a goal for the GWS Giants. Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images

GWS defender Nicola Barr has become an unlikely hero up forward, helping lift the COVID-hit Giants to a 21-point AFLW win over the wayward Western Bulldogs at Henson Park.

Barr entered Friday's match having never kicked a goal in her 33-game professional career.

But she ended the match with three to her name in the 7.1 (43) to 2.10 (22) victory.

Fellow defender Louise Stephenson, who had kicked just one goal in her 28 previous games, finished with two goals and an assist after also being stationed up forward.

The Giants had Pepa Randall, Chloe Dalton, Rebecca Privitelli and Katie Loynes ruled out due to the competition's health and safety protocols, and they were dealt a late blow when Georgia Garnett was forced to join them after she contracted COVID-19 for a second time.

But with Barr and Stephenson excelling up forward in a surprise tactical move, the Giants sealed victory despite losing the inside 50m count 33-21.

Barr was so excited with the win that she dropped the F-bomb in an on-field Fox Sports interview after the game.

"Sorry, I'm not allowed to swear," Barr said sheepishly.

"It's a massive win for us. This will be one of our best wins for me.

"I enjoyed the new role, but I can't do it without all the girls in the middle and the back who were feeding it to us and working really hard."

The Bulldogs had been out of action for 20 days after being struck down by COVID-19, but they could have come away with victory if not for their horrible goalkicking.

"We started the way I feared we might start," Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke said.

"We were very rusty, struggling to hit a target, a bit on the back foot.

"Then we worked our way into the game ... but we couldn't capitalise. We never put scoreboard pressure on the Giants at all."

Eleanor Brown (19 disposals) and Kirsty Lamb (18) battled hard for the Bulldogs, while Ellie Blackburn finished with 12 disposals, eight tackles, and a goal.

But it was evident that some Bulldogs players still hadn't fully recovered from their bout with COVID-19.

"(It was a) juggling act on the bench to hide players all over the field," Burke said.

"Ellie Blackburn only had two minutes in the midfield in the second half, because she just ran herself ragged and she had nothing left.

"It was an amazing effort to do what she did. There were others in a similar boat."

The Bulldogs have just four days rest before fronting up against Fremantle at Whitten Oval on Tuesday.

Burke wasn't happy that his team were forced to fly out from NSW just hours after losing to GWS.

"The AFL in their wisdom are sending us home tonight, so the players will get home around 12.30am, 1am," Burke said.

"That does nothing for our sleep patterns. Sleep is the best way to recover. We are getting off to a bad start by flying home tonight."