AFLW Round 7 – Fremantle v Carlton: Plenty to Play For

Fremantle v Carlton


Fremantle Oval 


Saturday 17th March, 2.05 p.m. WST (5.05 ESST)


Unlike the other three matches in the final round which all had the potential to shape the Grand Final, this game had a distinct end of term flavour.


Fremantle had endured a forgettable season in 2017, which fell far below their expectations. This season they had achieved some improvement, shocking the highly-rated Melbourne team, and winning the landmark opening match at the new Perth Stadium in front of a record-setting crowd of 41,000. They had also run last year’s premiers, Adelaide to a narrow and somewhat fortunate win in their previous outing. However the prospect of a loss against the Blues threatened them with the wooden spoon which they had barely avoided last season.


Carlton’s high hopes at the beginning of the season, slightly moderated by unconvincing wins against potential strugglers in the opening two rounds had dissipated completely by now. They had lost their unbeaten home record (2017-18) to Brisbane in round three, then suffered a demoralising defeat to the Bulldogs. As injuries and suspensions made a significant impact on the Blues list, the ship had stabilised to a degree in the following two matches. They had still fallen to heavy defeats and the wooden spoon was in prospect.


I had noted something of a revival in the Carlton side the previous week after a first quarter in which Melbourne settled the outcome of the match and threatened to run up a cricket score against the Blues. It was if some distant memory kicked in and the Blues discovered some of the skills which had been noticeably absent for several weeks. Irrelevant though it was, they actually “won” the rest of the game on the scoreboard, and outscored the Dees in two of those three quarters. Happily, Carlton women brought this same spirit West, even if skill and system were less evident that would have been desired.


In the event, a competitive game was played in spirited fashion, characterised by heavy challenges strong tackling and even some spite. Until early in the final quarter, there was rarely more than a kick separating the sides, which maintained interest in an otherwise routine affair.


The early skirmishes proved inconclusive with the ball trapped in the Fremantle forward line, until Kara Donnellan converted a free kick from well out – not far short of the 50 metre arc. A couple of minutes later, Maddison Gay scrambled a kick forward which released Tayla Harris for a simple walk-in goal to open Carlton’s account.


As quarter time approached, Harris won a one-on-one with Evie Gooch and released Alison Downie, who kicked a fine running goal. Amy Lavell marked at the end of a constructive forward thrust by Fremantle to give the home side the lead at quarter time, but their two point advantage seemed scarcely enough given the advantage of the breeze.


Carlton, with the breeze, enjoyed the bulk of the forward entries in the 2nd quarter. However characteristic inefficiency saw them register 1 goal 5 behinds to one goal by Freo. Darcy Vescio’s clever tap on allowed Harris to goal, stretching the Carlton lead to 7 points. Good lead-up by Kellie Gibson delivered for Amy Lavell’s mark, which enabled the veteran to score Freo’s goal, and meant that the half-time deficit was a mere three points.


The third quarter opened with a clever snap from Vescio, after she outpointed Leah Mascall in a one on one. Then Freo fired up for two goals in quick succession. Ebony Antonio with her back to the goals fed a hand-pass to Lisa Webb who scored, followed promptly by Gibson’s converting a down-field free to give her side the lead. Loynes won back the lead for the Blues, when she also benefited from a downfield free. A heavy clash in a marking contest saw Tayla Bresland and Hayley Miller forced from the field, when Tayla Harris was able to complete the mark. All three players showed commendable courage in their unhesitant approach to the contest. Miller soon returned and demonstrated her mettle by scoring a goal after the siren when Gaby Pound was caught holding the ball – a tough decision as she might well have received the free for in the back.


So, Fremantle took a three point advantage into the final term. Following Vescio’s snapped behind, the Dockers quickly put the match beyond Carlton’s reach, with three goals in three minutes.


Ashley Sharp provided the day’s highlight with a wonderful run from centre wing where she had collected a loose ball, to score the first of the three; Antonio trapped Nic Stevens holding the ball and produced a fine kick from 45 metres into the breeze, then Dana Hooker sent a speculative long ball which bounced through defying Kerryn Harrington’s desperate pursuit. The final ten minutes was played out in end-of-season fashion. Alison Downie goaled for the Blues after marking a snapped kick forward from Tilly Lucas-Rodd to narrow the margin, while Carlton also racked up three further behinds.


From a Blues’ perspective, this was Tayla Harris’ best game for the season and both she and Darcy Vescio showed glimpses of their talent after generally forgettable campaigns.


As John Butler has noted, Carlton’s forwards have been poorly served with the midfield deliveries largely kick and hope. Sarah Hosking and Alison Downie gave plenty of drive and Maddison Gay was useful. Fremantle had fine games from Ebony Antonio, Lisa Webb, Ashley Sharp, Dana Hooker, Kara Donnellan, Kellie Gibson and Hayley Miller.


The match was decided by the Dockers’ better method and by the even contribution from their full list, notable because injuries hampered their rotations.



FREMANTLE     2.2     3.2     6.4      9.5      (59)     
CARLTON           2.0     3.5     5.7     6.12     (48)                                     

Fremantle: Lavell 2, Donnellan, Miller, Webb, Gibson, Sharp, Antonio, Hooker
Carlton: Harris 2, Downie 2, Vescio, Loynes

Fremantle: Hooker, Antonio, Webb, Donnellan, Lavell, Miller
Carlton: Harris, S.Hosking, Loynes, Downie, Gay, Arnell

Fremantle: O’Sullivan (head knock), Janz (knee)
Carlton: Audley (head knock)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Rawlings, Simmonds, McPhee

Official crowd: TBC at Fremantle Oval (I’ll go with Les Everett’s estimate of 1,000)

Votes: 3. Dana Hooker (Frem.)   2. Tayla Harris (Carl.)   1. Kara Donnellan (Frem.)




  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Thanks for your contributions this year Peter. Excellent work

  2. John Butler says

    Peter, I was taken by how fiercely this so-called ‘dead rubber’ was contested.

    Given what has subsequently transpired, the Blues look to be in considerable strife.

    The more things change…..

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