'Simple' game plan pays dividends for key Docker

FREMANTLE tall forward Gemma Houghton says a simplified game plan under new coach Trent Cooper is behind her bright start to the NAB AFL Women's campaign.

Houghton has been a strong focal point in victories over Melbourne and Brisbane, and was singled out for showing improvement by Lions coach Craig Starcevich after Sunday's 27-point win at Fremantle Oval.

TWO IN A ROW Dockers put Lions to the sword

The 25-year-old booted a major from the goal-line and finished with eight disposals and five tackles, backing up her two-goal, four-mark, 10-possession effort in the round one triumph over the Demons in Melbourne. 

Alongside star Ebony Antonio and a fleet-footed smaller brigade, Houghton has helped Fremantle outscore every other team in the opening two rounds with a direct and eye-catching brand. 

"The game plan this year is a lot simpler…I enjoy not having to worry about certain things and I can just go out there and play," Houghton told womens.afl. 

"(Cooper tells us) to have fun, enjoy the game, put the pressure acts on and keep (the ball) in our 50."

The Dockers have remodelled their attack this season, with 10 goalkickers combining for 18 goals. 

Ashley Sharp has nailed four in two games, while Houghton, emerging star Sabreena Duffy (three each) and Gabby O'Sullivan (two) have helped create a multi-pronged attack.

Gemma Houghton with her Fremantle teammate Sabreena Duffy

"Then you've got those options up high with 'Ebs' (Antonio) and 'Gibbo' (Kellie Gibson)," Houghton said.

"We're really jelling. Outside of the game, behind the scenes at training, we're getting on well together and there's that connection we probably haven't had in a while.

"We're taking that and running with it." 

RISING STAR Duffy earns the nod for round two

Houghton played every game of the inaugural AFLW season (2017) after making the leap from state league basketball with the East Perth Eagles, but was restricted to two appearances last year coming off an injury in the WAWFL season.

The versatile 179cm Houghton was convinced to give footy a crack by Antonio, her former schoolmate, and was a stand-out during a club talent search. 

Houghton has relished turning her hand to a new sport and playing in front of friends and family, including older brother Joel, who spent two seasons on the Dockers' list but didn't play a game. 

"As a forward, he's given me a few tips and support off the field as well. It helps knowing he's been in the same position and he can give me that advice," Houghton said after the win over the Lions. 

"I do (have a lot of support), and it makes it so much more special, especially when you win, to have your family there – your mum, your aunties, your sisters and some of my best friends." 

The undefeated Dockers are back at home on Saturday evening to host winless Collingwood, and there is genuine belief among the players they can be a flag contender in 2019. 

"The confidence around the club is really strong," Houghton said.

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