AFLW Round 5 – Fremantle v GWS Giants: ‘We didn’t fly five hours to lose.’

Round 5, Fremantle vs GWS
5.05pm 3 March
Fremantle Oval


When I watched GWS last season, I expected nothing.  A goal was a win. I had no presumption of success. I was just glad we had a team up here.


The team was up against it, given its limited choice of home state picks and most of the population being oblivious to the league. Not having the footy history of the other states, NSW had a shallow talent pool. Those who came from out of state to play for that first team will always have a place in our hearts. As will those local girls who scrapped their way through that first season, some of them obviously out of their depth.


After I saw the trial game against Brisbane in February, I realised my expectations had taken a swerve.


This team were better.


New players had been drafted and those that remained had been honed. The skill level was higher and goals were not rare birds. I pestered friends who weren’t there with texts: they’re looking much better! Seriously! You should be here! We might win a couple of games this season!


The Melbourne game only served to reinforce my new confidence. GWS could have won that, except for some Rocky Cranston magic, and Daisy Pearce stepping it up in the last quarter. The only game I thought we couldn’t win, was against Carlton.


So this week I found myself daring to think the Giants could possibly win, in Fremantle, after a six day turnaround. In those moments when I walk the dogs and think about football and argue with myself, I knew I had no right to think we could win, but I tipped GWS all the same.


The first quarter started tight, ugly and with frighteningly large open spaces for Freo to run into. I began to worry that the size of the field and Freo’s familiarity with it was going to undo GWS. Then I realised the camera angle was higher than at other grounds used for AFLW. Schoolgirl error. (Usually I desperately want some wider angles for fear of sea sickness).


Things settled for GWS after Pepa Randall kicked from just outside 50 and Phoebe McWilliams took a pack mark at the top of the square. Fremantle evened things up when Amy Lavell shot a neat pass to Stacey Barr on the lead about 40 metres out. This became a shot right in front when a 50 was given.


I would have taken that score at quarter time, given the claustrophobic nature of the game thus far but Cora Staunton was having none of that. Courtney Gum fired a long ball into the 50 after some good scrapping in the centre square. Staunton dropped the mark but managed to recover the ball and kick a goal over her shoulder. I’m beginning to think Staunton is better running away from goal and kicking across her body. This one never looked like missing.


The second quarter started as tightly as the first. Freo got a free kick inside the 50 early on, but elected to play on quickly and sprayed the ball wide. At the other end Amy Schmidt ran into an open goal only to edge her shot through for a point. Freo were finding each other with clean ball but couldn’t get the points.


The desperation in the GWS backline was hot. As the commentators reminded us: “that sort of defence wins games doesn’t it?” (Other handy facts they offered: Courtney Gum is 36. Cora Staunton is Irish. Several GWS players are actually from WA).


With three minutes left in the half Farrugia scored a nice goal across her body. GWS got another after a swift pick up and side step from Staunton allowed her to deliver the ball to Gum running into goal. I was starting to be quietly confident at this point but I kept it to myself. Although I received several texts remarking on the game, I refrained from expressing hope.


Alicia Eva had been relatively quiet up to this point (and when I say quiet I mean, she was great, but not achieving the leather poisoning of previous weeks). GWS though are developing a very even team. They are not relying on any one player. Britt Tully was lively, Elle Bennetts has been growing every week, playing her role. Jodie Hicks loves a tackle and that backline is becoming a thing of beauty. (Ok, so I hope I haven’t just put the hex on them).


Rebecca Beeson kicked the first goal of the third quarter after some crude high contact from Cassie Davidson was penalised with 50m. The Dockers pulled one back through Gabby OSullivan, again after a 50m penalty.


Late in the quarter Staunton forced a lasso from Ebony Antonio (who was brilliant all day) in the back pocket. She was on the wrong side to kick across her body with her right so she fired a gorgeous ball to the top of the square (with the laces under her left hand, mind) and JACINDA BARCLAAAYYYYY! Pack mark. Goal.


2.3 to 6.2 at three quarter time. The boundary rider interviewed Michelle Cowan as she headed back to the coach’s box after the break. She ended her interview with “Just need four goals”. Cowan was not pleased.


My notes for this quarter start with “Beeson going to be sore” and “Phoebe Mcf**kingWilliams!”


Jess Dal Pos found Barclay inside 50 and then McWilliams took yet another pack mark above her head. She missed the shot but the contested marking from the GWS forwards is, dare I say it, possibly as good as any other team in the competition. The Giants continued to press forward, despite not actually achieving a goal. Randall took a mark in the centre square and took a run forward, surely nosebleed territory for her but she delivered a useful ball into the 50 where the Giants could lock it up again.


The game was done by this point, but only because the Giants defence, from the forwards back, frustrated the Dockers. Relentless is the word. The Dockers found a goal, a bouncing attempt from long distance by Stephanie Cain, fiercely contested as touched by the Giants defenders. It wasn’t enough.


So next week it’s the Bulldogs in Canberra and then the Lions at home in Blacktown.


Keep it on the shush, but I’m starting to dream.


The skills are improved, yes, but there is a grit that is priceless. 


As Amanda Farrugia said: We didn’t fly five hours to lose. 


FREMANTLE                                              1.0   1.2   2.3   3.3 (21)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY         2.0   4.1   6.2   6.3 (39)


Fremantle: Barr, O’Sullivan, Cain
GWS Giants: McWilliams, Staunton, Farrugia, Gum, Beeson, Barclay 

Fremantle: Antonio, Cain, Hooker, Donnellan
GWS Giants: Gum, Staunton, Brush, McWilliams

Fremantle: Nil
GWS Giants: Nil 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Simmonds, Johansen, McPhee

Crowd: 2571

Our votes: Gum (GWS) 3, Antonio (Fremantle) 2, Staunton (GWS) 1



A Swans AFL member and a GWS AFLW member, quickly developing conflicting allegiances. Trying to finish a PhD but footy keeps getting in the way. Mother to a teenage half-forward who sometimes plays at half-back.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Good work Georgina, felt like I was there reading your report. Like Ferrugia’s comment too. Love McWilliams and how this team is improving every week. So excited to see what emerges from the scrum this week!

    Go AFLW. Having a blast. On the edge of my seat type season.

  2. Georgina says

    Thanks Yvette. The improvement has been very good to watch, but so has the work of all the teams. Such a fantastic season across the board.

Leave a Comment