Third time lucky for Freo's rising back five

FREMANTLE's first three rounds of the AFLW season have seen its forwards, then midfielders and finally its defenders act as the backbone for respective wins in a brilliant 3-0 start.

The new pacesetters flew past Geelong at Fremantle Oval in round one, led by Sabreena Duffy's four goals. In round two the midfielders tackled West Coast into submission, with Kiara Bowers laying an incredible 18 tackles.

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Last Saturday it was the backline's turn, with the defence standing up against a torrent of inside 50s from a Collingwood midfield that was well on top, winning the clearances 25-19 and forward entries 34-21.

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Second-year Docker Angelique Stannett led the back five superbly, rotating on Jaimee Lambert and Chloe Molloy and drawing confidence each time Freo repelled a Magpie entry.

They conceded only one goal in the first quarter, despite Collingwood going into attack 10 times, and then held the Magpies goalless from nine entries in the tense final term.

"Even when we were under siege, in the unit we felt very confident," Stannett said. 

"We have a lot of confidence in our unit and the way we work together now.

"Each week that goes by our communication gets better and we feel better with the person standing next to us that they're going to get the job done.

"We just back each other in."


Ange Stannett competes for a loose ball with Collingwood's Jordan Membrey

Fremantle's back five is made up of Stannett, Janelle Cuthbertson, Laura Pugh, Evangeline Gooch and Philipa Seth, with the group building chemistry each week.

Their ability to support each other and bring the ball to ground, then distribute intelligently coming out of defence was a feature of the team's seventh straight win at Fremantle Oval.  

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"As a backline, we've definitely come together really nicely and we continue to build every single week," Stannett said. 

"It's very exciting for us to see what we can possibly do moving forward as well."

While coach Trent Cooper was forced to watch the ball go into his back 50 repeatedly, he did so with belief that his defenders would prevail. 

"We're starting now to get a strong defensive unit and starting to learn the game and be a bit more flexible in how we play down there," he said. 

"It's becoming a really strong part of our team now.

"I'm quite confident they're going to get the job done."