FREMANTLE may not be heading back to Western Australia anytime soon, but the Dockers look at home away from home, making it three from three after beating Richmond by 30 points at the Swinburne Centre on Saturday evening.
The Dockers were forced to put 48 hours of anguish and frustration behind them following the announcement that the Western Australian border won’t reopen as planned early next month.
But despite a gutsy effort from the Tigers – who refused to surrender across the first three quarters – Trent Cooper’s team went in for the kill in the final term, booting the first five goals of the fourth quarter to win 11.11 (77) to 7.5 (47).
After sharing the AFLW league best and fairest in 2021 with Collingwood star Bri Davey, three-time All-Australian Kiara Bowers continued her blistering start to 2022 with another brilliant display at Punt Road.
This time the 30-year-old midfielder tore Richmond apart from the opening bounce, finishing with a whopping 28 disposals, 24 kicks and 16 tackles in a clear best-on-ground performance.
Fremantle exited last year’s finals series in the opening week, but the Dockers are quickly emerging as a genuine premiership contender after adding the Tigers to wins over Greater Western Sydney and crosstown rivals West Coast, joining Adelaide, Collingwood and Melbourne as the only unbeaten teams in 2022.
TIGERS v DOCKERS Full match coverage and stats
The Dockers withstood a dogged Richmond for three quarters but quickly turned their attention to a couple of records in the closing 15 minutes of the game. They almost eclipsed their highest ever score, biggest winning margin and nearly broke the record for inside 50s in a game.
Just when the West Australians looked like running away with the game in the middle two quarters, Richmond found a way to remain in the game for as long as they could. Sophie Molan and Emelia Yassir both slotted their first AFLW goals to ignite a patriotic yellow and black crowd late in the second quarter.
Then when the Dockers threatened to put the Tigers away in the third quarter, Tayla Stahl read the play perfectly to reduce the margin to less than a kick with two minutes to play. But just like they did all day, Fremantle had all the answers. This time Gemma Houghton who composed herself before calmly slotting a goal from 30 metres out after the three-quarter time siren.
The Tigers dug in again late in the game, kicking the final two goals of the game to improve the final margin, but it was too little, too late.
Now Fremantle faces an anxious wait to find out when they will return home, with the very real possibility they could be here for most, if not all, of the season.
Grave concerns for veteran Tiger
Three star players – Bri Davey, Isabel Huntington and Kate Lutkins – suffered season-ending knee injuries in the opening round of the season and there could be one more after Harriet Cordner was helped off Punt Road Oval following an innocuous incident in the second quarter. With Cordner in clear pain on the deck and her teammates looking on in some distress, the game stopped for a handful of minutes while Richmond trainers helped the former Demon off the ground.
Death, taxes and double-digit tackles for Freo star
If you’re looking for a sure thing in the AFLW right now, this is it. Kiara Bowers laid 14 tackles in the Derby in round one, then 12 more against Greater Western Sydney, before the Fremantle enforcer made it 16 more on Saturday. She laid eight in the first quarter to put her on world record pace, added five more in the third quarter after not laying one in the second stanza, then finished with three more when the game was done.
Richmond star fires on home soil
Two-time All-Australian Monique Conti couldn’t have done too much more for the Tigers on Saturday, providing plenty of energy and finding plenty of the ball. The former premiership Bulldog has established herself as a genuine star in recent years, winning back-to-back best and fairests at Tigerland after joining the club ahead of 2020. Conti collected 22 disposals, 13 kicks and laid four tackles in the loss against Fremantle.
RICHMOND 0.3 3.4 5.4 7.5 (47)
FREMANTLE 1.1 4.6 6.8 11.11 (77)
Richmond: Yassir, Stahl, Molan, Jacques, Brennan, D’Arcy, Bernardi
Fremantle: Houghton 2, E. Antonio 2, Tuhakaraina, Tighe, East, Hyde, Roux, Miller, E. Antonio
Richmond: Conti, Dempsey, Seymour, Molan
Fremantle: Bowers, Houghton, O’Sullivan, Miller, Pugh, K. Antonio
Richmond: Cordner (knee)
Crowd: TBC at the Swinburne Centre
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