FREMANTLE has elevated itself above the AFLW pack and remains the only undefeated team after a thrilling three-point win against a desperate Collingwood on Saturday.
The Dockers extended their winning streak at Fremantle Oval to seven games and maintained their perfect record in 2020 with the 5.3 (33) to 4.6 (30) win in front of 5,636 fans.
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Their defence was heroic, holding off the surging Magpies in the final quarter and keeping their opponents to one goal in the second half, despite Collingwood's massive 34-21 advantage in forward entries.
Defenders Angelique Stannett, Philipa Seth and Laura Pugh were excellent, while midfielder Hayley Miller (13 and five clearances) took it up to the Magpies' onball stars.
Kiara Bowers lifted in the second half and finished with a game-high 14 tackles as the Dockers continued to define themselves as a high-pressure team that doesn't give an inch.
They hit the Magpies with a tackling assault in the opening term, laying 22 tackles and forcing repeat turnovers and kicking three goals from four inside 50s.
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Their efficiency was disguising Collingwood's midfield ascendency, however, and once the Magpies had soaked up Freo's opening salvo, the visitors got to work on building a lead of their own.
Star midfielders Jaimee Lambert (32 possessions and four clearances) and Brianna Davey (18 and seven clearances) led the way as the Magpies built a five-point lead at the main break.
The game went up a level in the third quarter, with young Freo star Roxy Roux inserting herself with a crunching tackle on Porter, earning a free kick and converting her set shot.
Bowers continued her ruthless approach, laying a crunching tackle on Davies, who was held to one touch in the third quarter before a goalless final term.
The Dockers back five is made up of Angelique Stannett, Janelle Cuthbertson, Laura Pugh, Evangeline Gooch and Philipa Seth. The group is growing in confidence every week and provided the backbone of Freo's win on Saturday with their timely spoils, desperate attack on groundballs, and composed use when clearing defensive 50 evident.
The ladder now
The Dockers are one game clear at the top of Conference B, separating themselves from the Magpies, Carlton and Melbourne, who all have two wins in a highly competitive side of the competition. Brisbane and Gold Coast's draw in Conference A means the Dockers are the only undefeated team.
The stat that mattered
Fremantle went inside 50 just six times to Collingwood's 23 in the first half but managed to stay within five points of the visitors. Gabby O'Sullivan, Ashley Sharp and Kate Flood made the most of their chances, preventing what should have been a more sizeable Magpies' lead.
Keeping the faith
The Dockers midfield plans for Davey and Lambert didn't work out in the opening half, but the coaching group didn't panic. Trent Cooper backed his midfielders to bounce back and win their share of the ball, with Miller and Bowers excellent after half time. They didn't match the high numbers of Collingwood's onballers, but that's not Freo's game.
"The interchange was the only stat we won for the day … but we hung in there and I thought we actually played pretty well in the second half and controlled it as much as you can control it in those situations. I'm just really happy with how resilient we were." – Fremantle coach Trent Cooper
"It was a tough game, a physical game. Fremantle certainly are very much a good pressure team and they brought that in the second half. We (won) a lot of key statistical areas … but just our polish at the end under pressure, we just couldn't quite execute the right thing at the right time." – Collingwood coach Steve Symonds
Collingwood hosts Melbourne in a Friday night showdown at Marvel Stadium, with both teams looking to bounce back from their first losses of the season. The Dockers travel for the first time this year and will face St Kilda (1-2) at RSEA Park.
FREMANTLE 3.0. 3.0 5.2 5.3 (33)
COLLINGWOOD 1.1. 3.5 4.5 4.6 (30)
Fremantle: Roux, E.Antonio, Sharp, O'Sullivan, Flood
Collingwood: Lambert, Sheridan, Layton, Membrey
Fremantle: Seth, Miller, Stannett, Stewart, Bowers, Roux, Pugh
Collingwood: Lambert, Rowe, Chiocci, Bonnici, Layton, Davey
Crowd: 5,636 at Fremantle Oval