FREMANTLE has comprehensively stamped its claim as a premiership contender, beating the previously undefeated Collingwood by 31 points at Victoria Park on Thursday evening.
The Dockers held the Pies to their lowest-ever AFLW score of seven points, having previously recorded nine in round two, 2019 against Melbourne.
It was a low-scoring grind for much of the game, with an engaging battle playing out between Fremantle's multi-pronged forward line and Collingwood's well-structured back five.
But Hayley Miller, Gemma Houghton and Ebony Antonio kicked a goal apiece in the last quarter to sew up the 5.8 (38) to 1.1 (7) result.
With disposals and clearances fairly even, the Dockers held a 20-5 lead in inside-50s to half-time, but the Magpies' defence had held on for dear life, conceding just 2.3.
Fremantle's pressure was such it forced the normally clean Collingwood into multiple skill errors by hand and foot, and the Pies were unable to dictate play through steady disposal.
MAGPIES v DOCKERS Full match coverage and stats
As the game progressed, the Magpies forward structure broke down nearly completely, and it looked like their best way of scoring was off a quick rebound, but Fremantle's inaccuracy kept the Pies just 12 points adrift going into the final quarter.
Brit Bonnici (25 disposals, 488m gained) and Jaimee Lambert (18, five clearances) were tireless in the midfield, with defenders Ruby Schleicher and Stacey Livingstone holding up well under enormous pressure.
Miller (19 disposals, two goals) and Bowers (26, five clearances) were at their customary best, but it was the performance of Aine Tighe (12 intercepts) in defence that caught the eye, dictating play and being a constant thorn in Collingwood's side.
Anything you can do, I can do better
Brit Bonnici scored Collingwood's only goal in the second quarter with a perfect front-and-centre crumb in one of the Pies' rare forward forays. The momentum from the Bonnici's second career goal in her sixth season was shortlived, with Fremantle captain Hayley Miller coolly slotting an impressive goal from around 40m on a tight angle. It took the margin to eight points at half time.
Impressing at both ends of the field
Aine Tighe's first three matches have been spent up forward with the occasional relieving stint in the ruck, but with Fremantle's attack featuring Ann McMahon, Roxy Roux and Gemma Houghton for the first time this year, Tighe was forced into defence. Covering for Janelle Cuthbertson (second game missed with concussion), Tighe lined up against the experienced Sabrina Frederick and competed well, particularly at ground level.
A complete domination
The statistics out of the game will make for damning reading for Collingwood coach Steve Symonds. For a high-disposal side, the Pies had 48 fewer kicks, and lost the inside-50 count 41-10. The Dockers also dominated contested possessions 122-99 and took eight marks inside 50 to zero.
"It certainly wasn't part of the plan. We just couldn't get a connection between the arcs, if I'm honest. We lost territory early, and then the ball was going deep into their forward 50. I thought we battled manfully as far as making sure we kept the contest in the defensive area, the score could have blown out a lot." – Collingwood coach Steve Symonds
"Our backs were fantastic all day with their set up, but the score probably comes about from our midfield dominance. I think we kept them to 10 inside 50s, so that was a phenomenal effort by our midfielders. Our forwards didn't kick as many goals as they would have liked, but they kept the ball inside our forward area for a long period of time." – Fremantle coach Trent Cooper
Both sides have quick turnarounds, playing again on Tuesday. Collingwood will hopefully face West Coast (whose Friday game was cancelled due to AFL health and safety protocols) at Victoria Park, while Fremantle will take on the Western Bulldogs at VU Whitten Oval.
COLLINGWOOD 0.1 1.1 1.1 1.1 (7)
FREMANTLE 1.1 2.3 2.7 5.8 (38)
Fremantle: Miller 2, Roux, Houghton, E. Antonio
Collingwood: Bonnici, Lambert, Schleicher, Livingstone, Rowe
Fremantle: Miller, Bowers, Tighe, E. Antonio, Roux
Crowd: 1257 at Victoria Park
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