AFLW: Fremantle flex premiership credentials with mammoth final quarter against Richmond
Dockers star Kiara Bowers was so ‘filthy’ with 15 disposals and 12 tackles against Greater Western Sydney, she took it upon herself to lift Fremantle into premiership contention with a statement win over Richmond.
The reigning AFLW league best and fairest gave the competition an emphatic reminder of her ability, tallying 28 disposals, 16 tackles and nine clearances as Fremantle kicked five unanswered final quarter goals to overrun the Tigers by 30 points.
Just 10 points separated the Dockers and a much-improved Tigers outfit at three quarter time before Fremantle went in for the kill, notching their second highest score, their third straight win and undoing Richmond’s resistance.
With their commanding 11.11 (77) to 7.5 (47) win, the Dockers have done nothing but dispel any lingering belief they aren’t a finals threat.
Senior coach Trent Cooper said Bowers was desperate to return to her best despite still attracting three coaches votes for game against GWS.
“By her standards, she was not happy with her performance,” he said.
“Normally she would’ve been on a roof yesterday (as a carpenter) and it was 40 degrees in Perth yesterday but she’s not doing that now.
“She’s in a good head space to perform. What we saw today was pretty dominant.”
Fremantle’s forward line lapped it up, the Dockers benefiting from incredible supply (46 inside 50s).
Gemma Houghton, Fremantle’s All-Australian spearhead, was particularly lively with two goals but could’ve damaged the scoreboard even more with a few missed opportunities blunting her afternoon.
Of the constant highlights, it’s impossible to go past the Antonio’s back-to-back goals in the second quarter.
Donning Fremantle’s inaugural pride jumper for Pride Round, Kara (two goals) tugged at the rainbow chevron after a snap across her body only for spouse Ebony to sidestep a tiger and set sail from 45 metres minutes later.
But while it was Fremantle’s established stars who set-up the win, their emerging talent finished the job.
Makaela Tuhakaraina and Aine Tighe kicked their first goals for Fremantle while Dana East and Mikayla Hyde also added one each across the third and fourth quarters as the Dockers marched into contention.
The Tigers efforts until three quarter time however can’t be faulted, rallying after losing key defender Harriet Cordner to a suspected ACL injury in the second quarter.
Richmond star Monique Conti (22 disposals, four tackles), continued her stellar form in the midfield but doesn’t have enough support.
Bowers stole the limelight but Fremantle’s midfield runs much deeper, captain Hayley Miller (14 touches, one goal) and Gabby O’Sullivan (14 touches, five clearances) also wielding their influence.
Cooper said the Dockers used Melbourne’s heat to their advantage in the final quarter.
“This is really mild or normal (in Perth),” he said.
“We wanted to keep running through that and we know we’ve got so many options in the midfield, we thought hopefully Richmond, at this stage don’t bat as deep in there, might tire a bit.”
FREMANTLE 1.1, 4.6, 6.8, 7.5 (47)
RICHMOND 0.3, 3.4, 5.4, 11.11 (77)
Goals — FREMANTLE: G Houghton 2, K Antonio 2, E Antonio, R Roux, D East, H Miller, A Tighe, M Tuhakaraina, M Hyde
RICHMOND: S D’Arcy, S Molan, E Yassir, T Stahl, K Jacques, K Brennan, C Bernardi
Best — FREMANTLE: K Bowers, G Houghton, G O’Sullivan, H Miller, L Pugh, K Antonio
RICHMOND: M Conti, K Dempsey, G Seymour, S Molan, K Brennan
INJURIES – RICHMOND: H Cordner (knee)
Umpires: J Power, L Rowe, L Porter. Crowd: TBC at Swinburne Centre.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails