Dockers 'a lot hungrier' after prelim pain in 2019

VERSATILITY has been a key theme of Fremantle's AFLW pre-season as the motivated Dockers vow to make amends for their disappointing preliminary finals exit.

The Dockers had an imposing 6-1 record in the home and away season, with their only loss against eventual premiers Adelaide.

But the Conference A runners-up were no match for a rampant Carlton at Ikon Park, going down by 36 points to miss out on a Grand Final berth.

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Having gone into the game without star captain Kara Antonio (nee Donnellan) due to a knee injury, the Dockers suffered further pain with midfield ace Dana Hooker (thigh), Hayley Miller (hamstring), Ashlee Atkins (AC joint) and gun on-baller Kiara Bowers (hip) all worse for wear as the result of a bruising encounter.

Dockers defender Ebony Antonio said having players capable of filling multiple positions was a lesson to take out of the defeat.

"If each player can be more versatile and play across two lines, it gives Trent (coach Trent Cooper) plenty of options to mix girls around and put the opposition off-guard," Antonio told womens.afl

"We'll be working a lot on that this year.

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"We'll all be put in different positions to see how we go and if we get injuries like we got against Carlton in that preliminary final, we know we have confidence in girls to play different positions."

The Dockers could consider themselves unlucky to have had to travel to Melbourne for their preliminary final given they had a better home-and-away record than the Blues.

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The Blues and the Dockers clash in the preliminary finals

But Antonio said they weren't using that as an excuse, and instead have used the pain of their finals defeat as motivation for next season.

"At the time, there was a sense of disappointment, but if anything, it's made the group a lot hungrier," she said.

"A lot of the girls have come back fitter, which means they are dedicated and committed to going a couple of games further this season.

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"The ultimate goal is for that premiership.

"We strongly believe under Trent Cooper, that he can steer us in the right direction to get that goal under our belt."

The introduction of West Coast to the AFLW competition for next season has had a massive impact on the Dockers, with 13 of their players – including All-Australian Hooker – crossing the divide and joining the Eagles.

Dana Hooker is now an Eagle. Picture: AFL Photos

It will only add to the intensity ahead of a historic women's Western Derby in round two at Optus Stadium.

"I have no doubt the media will build up the derby and the fans will jump on board and want to be a part of a historic moment in the women's first-ever derby," Antonio said.

"When round two comes, I've got no doubt there will be a bit of build-up and a sense of lining up against our old teammates.

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"Hopefully we can get the win and give them a cheeky nudge and say you shouldn't have left."

The Dockers open their 2020 season at home against Geelong at Fremantle Oval on February 9.