AFLW Round 3 – Melbourne v Fremantle: Demons’ defeat leaves competition wide open

Melbourne v Fremantle

3.35pm (WST), Sunday 18 February

Fremantle Oval

 

If nothing else, this whole round of the AFLW proved that the teams in the competition are a lot closer than what the ladder will let you believe. The gap between the elite players and the new recruits is closing, providing some stunning competitions across the country.

 

I’ve tried hard to ignore the comments made in the media about the state of the game. It’s really difficult to shut everything out though; I’m just lucky that there is a chorus of people who will tweet, comment, write and speak out in support of the competition. One of the main grumbles is that these are low scoring affairs complicated by defensive footy. I hope that all of these naysayers were watching the Melbourne vs Fremantle game.

 

Regular Almanac readers will know of my never-ending support of the Dees, and it is true that I sat down to watch this game thinking that we were almost a shoe-in (this being the first away match leaving only the smallest traces of doubt in my mind). However, at the end of the game, I was in awe of the way that Fremantle managed to dismantle the strong Dees outfit.

 

In the first quarter, the Dees looked too strong all over the ground, and with 15 inside-50s to zero, it looked like it would be a one-sided contest. Fremantle didn’t even look like making it near their forward 50, let alone having a scoring shot. The Dees were working as a cohesive group, supporting each other, while the Dockers looked flat. However, the Demons were extremely inaccurate in front of goal which would prove their downfall.

 

What impressed me most about the quarter was the tackling intensity from both teams. The pressure made players from both teams second guess themselves and marks were dropped, handpasses fell short and, in the case of the Dees, goals were missed. This was footy that proved that the strength of players had improved in the off-season, with coaching staff working on effective tackling, especially in the attacking 50.

 

The second quarter gave the crowd one of the most incredible goals on debut from a player in the AFLW. Emily McGuire’s one-handed pick up, followed by a superb kick around the body for a goal, gave the home side a lift that would carry them through the quarter. Antonio and the skipper Donnellan gave the Dockers much needed stability, with both being extremely influential in the game turning in their favour. Antonio’s long range goal put the Dockers in front with just under two minutes to go in the quarter; a lead that they took into the long break.

 

The powerhouse that is Daisy Pearce proved that you should never give up on the Dees. She ended the game with 24 possessions and a very Dustin Martin-style ‘don’t argue’, and was instrumental in making sure that the Dees kept in touch with the Dockers. Her disposals came mostly while under the tag of Donnellan, something that should be noted, as most of them seemed to also come when she had found space. It was her influence, alongside that of Smith and Jakobsson, that meant that the Dees were in front leading in to the last change.

 

Donnellan and Gooch proved the difference in the end, with McGuire scoring another goal in an impressive debut game. The Dockers won by 5 points in the end, showing that the Dees were fallible and that the competition was much closer than what it appeared at the start of the round. The Dees would feel disappointed at missing the chance to be not only undefeated, but also sitting at the top of the ladder, while the Dockers have now won two in a row and their confidence grows.

 

I hope that those critics of the game were watching this match. To see how influential Daisy Pearce and Kara Donnellan are on a game, and the way they can seemingly have the ball on a string. To see players like Cranston and Newman put on the afterburners and speed away from opponents. And to witness debutants like McGuire entertaining the crowd with two important goals.

 

Melbourne 1.5 1.5 4.6 4.7 (31)

Fremantle 0.0 2.0 4.0 6.0 (36)

 

GOALS

Melbourne: Cunningham 2, Newman, Paxman

Fremantle: McGuire 2, Lavell, Antonio, Webb, Caulfield

 

BEST

Melbourne: D Pearce, Cunningham, Jakobsson, O’Dea

Fremantle: Donnellan, Webb, Antonio, Gooch

 

OUR VOTES: Donnellan 3, D Pearce 2, Webb 1

 

About Cat Jones

When I'm not busy teaching secondary students, I'm thinking about sport. Hopeful of a Demons premiership.

Comments

  1. Cat,
    It IS difficult to ignore the knockers.
    But I have found that it is much more satisfying when/if you can…

  2. Great story Cat

  3. Yvette Wroby says:

    Wonderful write up and I agree about all the white noise and negativity, and how it affects those of us who are enjoying the footy and seeing the improvement, the special moments and the incredible surprise performances. It was a great game, and the result only known in the last few seconds. So on the edge watching this game. And now, we can look forward to another ripper of a weekend. Each of the games could go either way. Can’t wait.

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