AFLW Round 3 – Greater Western Sydney v Fremantle: Draw your own conclusions.
The night of 18 February is known as White Night in Melbourne; a night with dazzling light installations across the CBD that draws thousands of people to wonder at the display of imagination and artistry. Earlier, much earlier, the fledgling AFLW kicked off round three in the heat of Sydney’s summer when the Greater Western Sydney Giants took on the Fremantle Dockers in Bankstown. The start of the game looked like White Day in Western Sydney, with way too many white shorts on the field. I know the clubs are pretty strapped for resources but did no one check the clash strips?! It was difficult to separate the teams from a distance and nothing was to separate them at the end. Neither team had won a game going in to the clash and after four hard fought quarters scores were tied. Yes, the Giants and the Dockers played out the first AFLW draw – GWS 7.1 (43) Freo 6.7 (43).
The Dockers dominated early play, scoring two points before the first goal; just reward to debutant Kira Phillips (who seemed to have stolen the gloriously named Tayla Angel’s jumper #9). On my Christmas break home in Perth, I watched Phillips run endless laps around Fremantle Oval while the main group trained and I have to say she is one of my Freo favourites. Fremantle continued to push forward through skipper Kara Donnellan but the Dockers failed to capitalize. The Giants captain Amanda ‘Fridge’ Farrugia is a force with which to be reckoned and every one of her crunching tackles were cheered on by the enthusiastic home crowd, including a number of delightfully imaginative cardboard fridges. The supporters were riding every bump. The players were burning huge amounts of energy. And this Freo supporter was ruing missed opportunities in front of goal and wondering what the out of bounds on the full stats were. Dana Hooker, Amy Lavell, Kirby Bentley and Donnellan were all playing well for the Dockers but the scoreless Giants kept Fremantle to 1.3 (9) at quarter time with the dangerous Phoebe McWilliams injured in the final seconds.
Play in the second quarter lifted; the prospects of a free flowing quarter was mouth watering. Docker defender Stephanie Cain defender found Hayley Miller who moved it on to Hooker but the ball is locked up on the wing again. Donnellan showed how smooth – and tough – she is in the heat of the game but the Giants continued to contest fiercely. Swanson and Tully are getting plenty of the ball and the Giants kicked their first through Ellie Brush. Fremantle’s Bentley defended well, continually putting her body on the line and the Dockers found Sharp at the top of the goal square. Fremantle almost scored a third after Miller took the game on with a dash down the wing but Stacey Barr’s behind increases the lead to 10 points. A costly 50 metre penalty from Akec Makur Chuot resulted in a goal to Mau Ngyuen before the Dockers drive through the middle to score an important goal from Donnellan.
The half time break was extended to 20 minutes because of the heat with the score GWS (in their black shorts) 2.0 (12) trailing Fremantle 3.5 (23).
Early in the third quarter another Farrugia tackle starts a chain of GWS possession that led to another opportunity in the Giants forward line and the Jacinda Barclay goal reduced the difference to 5 points. Another Giants tackle saw Fremantle’s Tiah Haynes crash into the turf – yet another Docker sidelined. Is the 27 player list deep enough for the short seven-week season? McWilliams (wait, wasn’t she injured too?) kicked the Giants third goal at the end of another telling passage of play as the Giants dominated the quarter. Tompkins stopped the Dockers at every turn and Filocamo’s repeated efforts failed to result in goals. Ebony Antonio (Fremantle defender back from suspension) kicked to the hot spot and Barr goaled. Fremantle again moved the ball into the forward 50 and Sharp’s second goal gave the visiting team a 9 point lead before another 50 metre penalty against the Dockers led to a crucial Stephanie Walker goal. At the last break the difference is just 5 points. Greater Western Sydney 5.0. (30) Fremantle 5.5 (35). Giants Maddy Collier, Ellie Brush, Emma Swanson and Jacinda Barclay continued to support Erin McKinnon, Farrugia and Renee Tompkins to keep the home side in the quest for victory.
Clearly, the first goal of the final quarter was crucial and the contest was tough with tackle after tackle after tackle. Defenders from both sides continued to hold up their opposition before Barclay marks strongly and goals. McKinnon dominated the ruck and the visitors were forced to chase a winning lead. The Giants Tully cleared but Fremantle bounced back through the hard working Lavell and Sharp kicks her third goal. The Dockers held a slender four point lead. Great battles continued around the ground; Barclay v Bentley on the wing was typical of the fierce contest. Walker missed a shot on goal for the Giants and the pressure was showing. Well, I was feeling it! Fremantle captain Donnellan was forced to leave the ground with a bloody nose while the Dockers continued to take the game on. Sharp had another shot on goal but missed a vital opportunity to put the game out the Giants reach. With just minutes left in the contest, the Dockers had 12 scoring shots to 7 but only led by 5 points. Another Dockers behind followed and the difference was 6 points.
The visitors gave up a bad turnover to undo the great work from Miller and Aimee Schmidt kicked as straight as her team mates had done all day. Scores were tied: 7.1 v 6.7. The final two and half minutes of the game was white hot football! I was cheering for a five bounce run and goal from Miller but as she broke away from the backline, her teammate Angel was penalised for a head high hit and the momentum was lost. Scores remained level and the crowd was denied the chance to join in the chorus of one of the great club songs. For what it’s worth, I love giving it the ol’ Heave Ho when Freo wins.
Fremantle play Adelaide at Fremantle Oval next week.
Greater Western Sydney take on Brisbane in Brisbane.
Greater Western Sydney 0.0 2.0 5.0 7.1 (43)
Fremantle 1.3 3.5 5.5 6.7 (43)
Greater Western Sydney: McWilliams 2, Barclay, Brush, Nguyen, Walker, Schmidt,
Fremantle: Sharp 3, Phillips, Donnellan, Barr.
Greater Western Sydney: McKinnon, Tompkins, Dal Pos, Swanson, McWilliams, Farrugia
Fremantle : Donnellan, Filocamo, O’Sullivan, Sharp, Antonio, Miller
UMPIRES : Garroway, Barr, O’Brien CROWD 4,000
OUR VOTES: McKinnon (Greater Western Sydney) 3, Donnellan (Fremantle) 2, Tompkins (Greater Western Sydney) 1.