AFLW Round 3 – Fremantle v Melbourne: Year of the (under)Dog?

AFLW Round 3 – Fremantle v Melbourne: Year of the (under)Dog?

3.35pm, Sunday 18 February

Fremantle Oval


Gong Xi Fa Cai. I kicked off the Chinese New Year with Yum Cha and a room full of football loving, Fremantle supporting women known as The Sirens. It was a fun way to prepare for the second home game of the Dockers AFLW season. And what a game it was. In a closely fought tussle, Fremantle kicked six straight goals to hold on by five points against the competition bench mark. Today, Melbourne’s demons took shape in the behinds of goals missed.


It was a terrific game to watch for the 3,500 or thereabouts at Fremantle Oval. From my comfy position in the old stand (I remembered a cushion of sorts) I was buggered if I could figure out the wind direction from the flags on the unprotected far wing. Did someone nick our wind sock?


Anyway, the Fremantle Doctor seemed to be heading from the hospital end toward Freo’s Big Old Morton Bay Tree end. For the non-local folk, the Fremantle Doctor is the south westerly sea breeze you might hear about while watching cricket played at the WACA. Because the women are playing in the middle of summer, the Doctor is relevant. It might lead to a couple more goals at the favoured end and definitely makes 30+ degrees feel a little cooler.


The game was tight but the first quarter clearly belonged to the visitors. The ball was in Melbourne’s forward 50 metre zone for most of the quarter but the only goal for the Red and the Blue came from tall forward Tegan Cunningham. Everyone else seemed to grab a minor score and the home crowd roared when defender Evie Gooch grabbed Emma Humphries after chasing down the speedster to prevent what seemed another likely shot on goal from the BOMBT end.


Early in the second quarter, Gooch won another important free kick, this time against the strength of Rocky Cranston. Gooch, Alex Williams and Belinda Smith supported Ebony Antonio in defence and the scoring was all purple: debutant Emily McGuire scooped a loose ball and snapped a beauty to put Freo on the board and Antonio kicked a crucial goal from just inside 50 metres. With only two goals, the home team was able to pinch the lead and headed down the race for half time instructions with their tails up. Melbourne had not bothered the scorers at all. Fremantle 2.0 (12) to Melbourne 1.5 (11).


Surely the Demons would rectify the messy scoreboard in the premiership quarter? The question bounced around the grandstand: is the barrage yet to come?


Hang on! The first goal of the third quarter went to the Dockers!


Amy Lavell kept her cool to collect the handball from the hard working Gabby O’Sullivan. Goal! Soon after, the skipper spotted Lisa Webb clear 30 metres out. Goal!  The Demons fought hard and got it back into their attacking zone, only to kick another behind. When Karen Paxman surged forward only to be stopped by Antonio, I tried not to look at the time clock.


Half way through the third quarter the Dockers were double the Demons score. I peeked too soon. Daisy Pearce stood up in the heat of the contest. A Cranston run led to a Newman goal. Another Cranston kick fell to Cunningham who snapped truly. Scores level! The Demons kept pushing and with a minute or so left in the term, Paxman out marked 15 defending Dockers to kick an easy goal and the visitors had hit the lead.


And so into the final term, nerves a jangle, we went. Tackle, surge, bump, shepherd … every player dug in. The Demons looked likely but the Dockers scored the first goal through sheer bloody mindedness!


Antonio cleared from defence and a quick chain of possessions resulted in a Mel Caulfield goal. Scores level again. It was getting mighty tense in the Grandstand. Tackle, surge, bump, shepherd … it seemed as though the umpires had swallowed their whistles. The Dockers surged again and the ump called for a boundary throw in from the Dockers forward pocket at the Big Old Morton Bay Tree end.


My footy mates will tell you how often I’ve called this opportunity as my favourite. I love ruck play and I love it deep in the pockets because of what happened next. The smaller Freo ruck tapped the ball in the general direction of McGuire and the goal sneak did the rest. What a beauty! Earlier in the day I had chatted about McGuire with an old friend at the Sirens Yum Cha. I had a quick look at the young forwards vitals. She is a Tiger. Just 19, McGuire is also a Swan. Today she was just bloody good.


McGuire had two goals and Fremantle six. Six goals and no behinds. The Dockers were in front and I was cheering for the siren. Oh, and for the ball to be kept as far away as possible from one D. Pearce.


While my blood pressure was rising, the home team kept their collective cool. Leah Pascall threw her body on the line to prevent an almost certain goal, the Dockers won a couple of crucial free kicks as reward for relentless tackling while the Dees kept trying. No one around me knew how long there was left to play in the game (I kept barracking for the siren) and then Elise O’Dea took an uncontested mark on the 50 metre line at the Hospital end. Hearts sunk, only to be revived when she kicked it. Out on the full! What? The free kick was marked by Cunningham but she couldn’t add to her goal tally. The ball ricocheted from contest to contest and I may have forgotten to breathe for a moment. The Demons, deep in their forward line, could not kick the final vital goal. Siren!


The Dockers hung on to win by 5 points. What a win! It was the most important victory of the club’s brief AFLW history, and I include the previous week’s win in front of nearly 42 000 people.


Way to go, team, well bloody played.




McGuire 2, Antonio, Lavell, Webb, Caulfield
Melbourne: Cunningham 2, Newman, Paxman

  Antonio, Donnellan, Gooch, Webb, Filocamo, McGuire.
Melbourne: Pearce, Paxman, Cunningham, O’Dea, Smith. 

Our Votes: Antonio (3), Donnellan (2), Pearce (1).

Umpires: Howorth, Johansen, Heffernan

Official crowd: 3125 at Fremantle Oval


I'm a rusted on Fremantle Dockers supporter. Radio is my first love, followed closely by cricket. I coordinate the Broadcast Journalism Diploma at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Good stuff. You are in your home town, with your beloved, and your Freo footy team as well. Twin passions. From a neutral observer, it was a great game to watch. The final result no known until the siren. New stars and old, giving their all. A grand game of football.

    Thanks for you report.

  2. Danae Gibson says

    thanks Yvette, it was fun to be there. I love being home.

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