FREMANTLE has produced a brilliant final quarter to down the Western Bulldogs by 15 points in one of the most exciting games in NAB AFL Women's history.
Ebony Antonio led the Dockers to their sixth straight win with 19 disposals and a brilliant momentum-shifting goal in the last term, with the visitors booting four goals to one after the final change.
FULL MATCH COVERAGE Check out all the news and stats
The 10.6 (66) to 8.3 (51) result set the record as the highest aggregate score between two AFL Women's sides.
Ashley Sharp and Mia-Rae Clifford were outstanding for Fremantle with five goals between them, while usual stars Sabreena Duffy and Gemma Houghton were well held.
Bulldogs forward Danielle Marshall had one of the most bizarre passages of the year, as she attempted a set shot halfway through the last quarter with her right foot before getting smothered.
The forward gathered the ground ball seconds later and nailed the goal on the run with her left foot instead.
WATCH IT LIVE How to follow the AFLW this weekend
Isabel Huntington was outstanding as an interceptor across half-back for the Bulldogs, while Ellie Blackburn led the way for most of the day with two goals.
The Bulldogs led for most of the day and looked like they would cause an upset after Docker Katie-Jayne Grieve gave away two 50 metre penalties in succession to start the third quarter, allowing Aisling McCarthy to kick the easiest goal of her life.
The Bulldogs looked to be pulling away until Ashley Sharp took a strong contested mark in the goal square for the second of her three goals for the day. The Fremantle forward became the focal point with Roxanne Roux rested and Gemma Houghton misfiring.
The late changes
Sapre a thought for Bulldogs defender Lauren Spark who woke up on Sunday morning battling migraines and vertigo. Dogs vice-captain Brooke Lochland has struggled to get a clean run at it this season and was a late omission as the Bulldogs manage her body. After suffering a hamstring injury at the start of this year, Lochland has played just two matches in 2020.
Big steps for the little whippets
Eleanor Brown (11 disposals) and Elisabeth Georgiostathis (13 disposals) were outstanding in the backline for the Bulldogs. The two took turns to shut down Sabreena Duffy (five disposals) and managed to generate plenty of rebounds off the flanks.
Don't say it…
The Dockers have won all six of their games and are a real chance at finishing the season unbeaten, but don't let Fremantle coach Trent Cooper hear that. That thought has not crossed the minds of the Dockers even for a second. Finals aren't even yet guaranteed with Carlton, Melbourne and Collingwood breathing down their necks in Conference B.
"From a communication standpoint on the field it was definitely a lot easier, you could hear from line to line." - Bulldogs defender Issy Huntington on the absence of a crowd.
"We had a mindset that we were playing a team who were the top of the ladder. If we just tried to shut it down and made it a dour game we weren't going to learn anything from it." - Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke on the aggressive game style.
"The most crucial point of the game was probably the contested mark by Sharp in the goal square when the momentum was against us." - Fremantle coach Trent Cooper on what changed the game.
"Not really a factor it all, it wasn't too weird. Local footy you have hardly anyone that comes down to watch you so it was a bit like that really." - Fremantle midfielder Kara Antonio said on the crowd lockout.
No crowd? No worries. Ellie Blackburn and her Bulldogs create their own noise as they run onto the field and through a guard of honour made up of football staff and injured players ???????? #AFLW #GenW pic.twitter.com/d5X9Rmgyh0— Michael Willson (@MichaelCWillson) March 15, 2020
The Bulldogs face the red-hot Kangaroos at Arden Street next Saturday at 3.10pm AEDT, while the Dockers will fly home to host Melbourne at 1.10pm AWST.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.0 4.1 7.3 8.3 (51)
FREMANTLE 1.2 4.3 6.5 10.6 (66)
Western Bulldogs: Blackburn, McLeod 2, Munyard, McCarthy, Berry, Marshall
Fremantle: Sharp 3, Clifford 2, K. Antonio, Miller, Pugh, E.Antonio, Flood
Western Bulldogs: Huntington, Blackburn, McCarthy, Georgiostathis, Newton, Brown
Fremantle: Bowers, E. Antonio, Gooch, Miller, K. Antonio, Clifford
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Brooke Lochland (managed) replaced by Brittney Gutknecht, Lauren Spark (unwell) replaced by Nicole Callinan
Fremantle: Janelle Cuthbertson (soreness) replaced by Sarah Garstone