HYPE around Fremantle continues to grow after an undefeated start to the NAB AFL Women's campaign, but skipper Kara Donnellan is doing her best to keep the team focused as a maiden finals berth looms.
The Dockers have taken the competition by storm with a fast and high-scoring style, and sit second on the Conference A ladder after three rounds.
"We're celebrating the wins. In this cut-throat competition, they're sometimes hard to come by, so you've got to celebrate them," Donnellan told womens.afl after a convincing 33-point win over Collingwood last weekend.
"With the conference model, you've got to make the top two to make finals, so we are just trying to keep a lid on it and focus on every week getting up and doing what we can to get the win."
There’s been plenty of debate about the merits of the conference system, with the A teams (Fremantle, new team North Melbourne, Melbourne, Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs), clearly stronger than those in B, at this stage of the season.
Each conference's top two at the end of the seven-round campaign will play in ‘cross-over’ preliminary finals, which could mean teams in Conference A miss out on finals despite boasting better records than the B finalists.
As it stands, the bottom-placed Conference A side (the Bulldogs) has one more victory than Conference B leader Carlton, with the two having almost identical percentages.
The Dockers are a win inside the top two but face a tricky run home against conference rivals the Crows in Darwin this Saturday, the Bulldogs and then the flag-favourite Kangaroos, plus competition newcomer Geelong.
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"If we're good enough to knock them (Freo’s A rivals) off and make top two then we're good enough to make finals," Donnellan said.
"Our destiny is in our own hands."
Donnellan praised the Dockers’ young backline for holding the Magpies to 18 points at Fremantle Oval, and was thrilled for undersized 178cm ruck Parris Laurie after her 16-disposal performance in just her third AFLW game.
"She's so athletic and she becomes almost a fourth onballer in there," Donnellan said of the basketball convert.
"Parris is fantastic … she's been a sponge in the off-season learning her craft and getting better, so I'm excited to see what she can provide us for the rest of the season."
Laurie was among seven Dockers who received coaches’ votes against Collingwood, with Donnellan taking out top marks with a perfect 10.
The star midfielder picked up 19 disposals and laid six tackles, building on a 14-possession effort in round two and 10-disposal game on the opening weekend after battling a chest infection.
"I'm feeling really good. I was chomping at the bit to get into it because I hadn't played any footy (in winter), so I felt like I'd had a 10-month pre-season post-surgery (on both knees)," Donnellan said.
"The belief and the camaraderie in the group is at a high at the moment and I'm just riding the wave with everyone."