SABREENA Duffy has led Fremantle to a 16-point win against Geelong, booting four goals as the Dockers opened their campaign in thrilling style on Sunday at Fremantle Oval.
Defeated preliminary finalists in 2019, the Dockers signalled their intent to figure at the pointy end again in a high-quality clash they eventually won 6.8 (44) to 4.4 (28).
Duffy was menacing around the ground-ball inside 50, kicking three goals across the opening three quarters before sealing the match late with a right-foot snap.
Gemma Houghton extended the margin against the brave Cats in a match that was much closer than the final margin suggested.
DOCKERS FEND OFF CATS Full match coverage and stats
The win was soured by a knee injury to midfielder Stephanie Cain, who left the ground with trainers in the first quarter and did not return.
Fremantle dominated the inside 50 count 47-13 but wasted some opportunities against the patient Cats, who used the ball well through the midfield but lacked a killer blow going into attack.
Dockers midfielder Kiara Bowers (22 possessions, 14 tackles, seven clearances and eight inside 50s) set the tone for a ferocious clash early and was only rivalled by Duffy for best-afield honours.
Midfield teammates Hayley Miller (17 and seven clearances) and Kara Antonio (12 and five tackles) followed her lead.
The trio combined for seven of the team's 16 first-quarter tackles and made sure the Dockers controlled field position early.
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Geelong was able to soak up the early pressure, however, and took a quarter-time lead after Georgia Clarke found space and converted her set shot.
The match went to another level in the second quarter, with Richelle Cranston extending the Cats' lead when she exploded free at half-forward, handballed to herself and then converted on the run from 25m.
It was the clear highlight for Geelong, who lost no fans in a high-quality clash in front of 5509 fans.
One to watch
Roxanne Roux can use her high leap to play in the ruck, but it's her super-boot the Dockers want to utilise in attack. Pick No.12 in last year's draft, Roux was a star on Sunday, launching shots from beyond 40m and kicking her first AFLW goal with a classy right-foot snap across her body.
They lost the match, but the Cats won the 'play of the day'. Richelle Cranston received the ball at half-forward early in the second quarter and then hit the turbo, handballing in front of herself as Docker Evangeline Gooch chased. Sparking her team, 'Rocky' then converted on the run from 25m and celebrated in style.
Stephanie Cain went down with a knee injury in the first quarter and did not return, with the hard-working midfielder set for scans this week. Her absence would be a setback for the Dockers after consecutive top-five placings in the best and fairest.
Did you see that?
Fremantle ruck Mim Strom showed at the opening bounce she will be a midfield weapon. The first-year Docker's ability to follow up the ruck contest and win the first clearance was impressive. With an injury-hit ruck division, Strom should get plenty of opportunities to showcase her mix of tap excellence and follow-up work.
"I was really rapt with Sabs' pressure when the ball was on the ground, but she competed in the air so often. I was saying in the box not long before the siren how good she'd been and I didn't realise she'd kicked four goals. I was just happy with everything else." – Fremantle coach Trent Cooper
"We worked really hard on trying to be more efficient going inside 50 and that was a huge plus from the day. Now we've just got to put the ball there a little bit more often." – Geelong coach Paul Hood
The Dockers go into a historic first Western Derby against the Eagles on Saturday at 4.10pm AWST at Optus Stadium. The Cats face the Brisbane Lions at GMHBA Stadium on Sunday at 1.10pm AEDT.
FREMANTLE 1.0 3.3 4.4 6.8 (44)
GEELONG 1.2 3.2 4.4 4.4 (28)
Fremantle: Duffy 4, Roux, Houghton
Geelong: Cranston, Morrison, Clarke, Maguire
Fremantle: Bowers, Duffy, Roux, Miller, Houghton, K Antonio, Strom
Geelong: Crockett-Grills, Webster, Purcell, Cranston, Keryk
Fremantle: Stephanie Cain (knee)
Crowd: 5509 at Fremantle Oval