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Match report: Giants stay in AFLW race

AFLW Highlights: Fremantle v GWS The Dockers and Giants clash in Round 5 of the AFLW
The Giants know the importance of the win - AFLW,GWS Giants,Fremantle Dockers
The Giants know the importance of the win

GREATER Western Sydney has kept its NAB AFL Women's Grand Final hopes alive and dealt a severe blow to Fremantle's chances with a commanding 18-point triumph on Saturday.

Led by star rover Courtney Gum (16 disposals, one goal), Ellie Brush (15) and dominant ruck Erin McKinnon (39 hit-outs) the visitors upset the Dockers on their home turf and snared a critical four points.

Greater Western Sydney has now climbed to fourth spot on the ladder, leapfrogging Fremantle, after the 6.3 (39) to 3.3 (21) triumph.

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The Giants are now only two points back from the top-three teams with two wins and a draw, and can influence their own destiny against top-two Western Bulldogs and Brisbane in the final rounds.

GWS set the tone early at Fremantle Oval, hitting the front by one straight kick at the first change and pulling away to a decisive 17-point break by half-time.

When Rebecca Beeson copped a late hit during the third term and split the middle after a 50m penalty the margin ballooned out to 23 points and the contest was all-but over.

Despite dominating clearances (29-14) the Dockers couldn't move the ball effectively enough or match GWS' potency in attack.

"We actually watched a couple of edits just last night about making more opportunities of our inside 50s," Giants coach Alan McConnell said post-match.

"We've been getting enough but we haven't been able to convert enough of those into scores."

The Giants had six individual goalkickers, with star forward Phoebe McWilliams (five marks, one goal) providing a strong target.

Gun defenders Ebony Antonio and Dana Hooker (both 19 disposals) were resolute for Freo but couldn't hold back the tide.

Skipper Kara Donnellan produced a typically hard-working display, laying 10 tackles, and Stephanie Cain lifted late (15 disposals, one goal) but it wasn't enough.

The Dockers face Adelaide and Carlton in two winnable matches to finish the campaign but need results to go their way – and a significant percentage boost - to feature in the season-decider.

Freo coach Michelle Cowan said her charges would continue to attack each game with hunger to win, regardless of the Grand Final scenario.

"We're certainly hungry to play competitive footy and we want sustained success in this competition and that's what we're driving for," Cowan said.

"The expectation is we have continuous improvement. (We're) continuing to work with the group about the brand of footy we want to play and make sure we bring that consistently week-in, week-out."

It was over when…
The Dockers were right up against it when Jacinda Barclay plucked a strong grab in the goalsquare and put the Giants up by four goals early in the third term, but Freo kept coming and were still in the contest not long after when Amy Lavell lined up a set shot from 20m directly in front. Lavell's kick veered left, though, and cannoned into the goal post, which was a knife to the heart for Freo.  

On the rise
Phoebe McWilliams was the Giants' most reliable avenue to goal in their debut season, slotting an accurate 7.1 for the campaign, and the star centre half-forward has already matched that effort with two games to go. McWilliams drilled the opening major after judging the flight of the ball better than her opponents on Saturday and now sits equal-second in the AFLW goalkicking rankings, only two off the pace set by Bulldogs forward Brooke Lochland.

Captain Kara
The Dockers owed plenty to Kara Donnellan for securing victory over Melbourne at Fremantle Oval two weeks ago and the skipper continues to inspire her charges with her toughness around the contest. Donnellan might not be the quickest Docker but she makes up for it with her grunt work. On Saturday she laid a game-high 10 tackles fighting in a losing battle.

What's next?
The Giants head to their home-away-from-home in Canberra to host the League-leading Western Bulldogs in a crunch game. Last round's draw against Adelaide has made it tougher for GWS to reach the Grand Final, but victory over the Dogs and second-placed Lions in the final two rounds would keep the Giants right in the hunt.

Say what
"I'm immensely proud of our girls. I think both teams came off tough last rounds and Fremantle had an extra day to recover, and I thought at half-time we might have paid a price for that but we found a way in the second half and closed the game out." – Giants coach Alan McConnell

"I thought GWS had great urgency for four quarters and played really good football for four quarters. They were certainly really hungry around the contest and around the entire ground. They certainly put us under pressure in there (clearances) when we won it and it was a really hot footy." – Fremantle coach Michelle Cowan.

What's next?
The Dockers travel to TIO Stadium in Darwin and need a big victory over reigning premiers Adelaide, while the Giants head to Canberra to face the in-form Western Bulldogs in a must-win clash.

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, Filocamo, Webb
GWS Giants: Gum, Brush, McWilliams, Eva, Barclay, McKinnon 

Fremantle: Nil
GWS Giants: Nil 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Simmonds, Johansen, McPhee

Official crowd: 2571 at Fremantle Oval