COLLINGWOOD is on the board for the first time in AFLW season 2023, proving too strong for Fremantle in a 21-point win at Victoria Park on Sunday.
The Pies weren't able to match it with reigning premier Melbourne for all four quarters last week, but look to be a step ahead of the Dockers after the 7.4 (46) to 3.7 (25) victory, the West Australians playing just their second game under new coach Lisa Webb.
The Dockers pushed hard in the final term and held the Pies scoreless, but having gone into the last break 37 points down had left themselves with too much work to do, with inaccuracy (2.4) also costing them.
The game congested early, with a lot of numbers around the footy and very few free passages of play.
Fremantle's forwards simply didn't get a look in during the first quarter, Pies recruit Nell Morris-Dalton kicking two goals while the visitors had just two inside 50s.
MAGPIES v DOCKERS Full match coverage and stats
Ebony Antonio got the Dockers on the board four minutes into the second quarter, dodging around a Pies defender to kick truly, but Fremantle didn't break through for another until Ange Stannett converted in the opening minute of the last term.
It was the defender-turned-forward's first AFLW goal, coming in her 49th game.
Fremantle superstar Kiara Bowers didn't look like she'd missed a beat in her first game of the season, having missed round one with knee soreness, finishing with 23 disposals and 18 tackles.
Last week it was Laura Pugh who took control of Fremantle's defence, and in round two it was Emma O'Driscoll's turn to shine, repelling numerous entries in an under-the-pump defence and recording 14 intercepts.
Collingwood continued to ramp up the pressure, winning the ball around the contest, and the midfield found some connection with the new-look forward line of Morris-Dalton, Eleri Morris and Ash Brazill.
The Pies were well served by Aishling Sheridan (21 disposals, six clearances), Brit Bonnici (20 and 10 tackles) and Bri Davey (19 and 10 tackles).
It led to adding another 3.2 in the third quarter – including a wonderfully entertaining bouncing effort from Sabrina Frederick – while the Dockers struggled to get it past the halfway point, scoreless in the term.
Integral Dockers midfielder Gabby O'Sullivan dislocated her shoulder early in the first quarter and did not return, while Pies tall Imogen Barnett suffered a left ankle injury in a tackle late in the second.
The return of the tackling queen
Bowers threw AFLW Fantasy teams into chaos with her late withdrawal last week, but the week off did her the world of good, returning with a bang against Collingwood. The 2021 AFLW best and fairest laid 14 of Fremantle's 47 tackles to half-time, and slowed somewhat as the Dockers started winning some footy, finishing with 18. There were no signs of needing to ease into the season, either, playing 89 per cent game time.
Sophie vs Gol-Aine-ith
There was a whopping 20cm height difference between Collingwood small back Sophie Casey and her opponent Aine Tighe in the first half. Fremantle played three talls – Ebony Antonio, Sarah Wielstra and Tighe – and in the absence of Lauren Butler and Ruby Schleicher (foot injuries), it was left to the dependable Casey to battle the in-form Tighe. With limited supply, Tighe was swung into defence in the second half, and was a dominant presence.
Fremantle will be back in familiar territory, hosting Hawthorn at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Saturday afternoon. Collingwood will come face-to-face with a Gold Coast side who will be full of confidence after its record-high score of 99, with the game also at Vic Park.
COLLINGWOOD 3.1 4.3 7.4 7.4 (46)
FREMANTLE 0.0 1.3 1.3 3.7 (25)
Collingwood: Morris-Dalton 2, Rowe, Morris, Campbell, Davey, Frederick
Fremantle: Antonio, Stannett, Lally
Collingwood: Sheridan, Davey, Bonnici, Rowe, Sansonetti
Fremantle: Bowers, O'Driscoll, Miller, Stannett, Strom
Collingwood: Barnett (ankle)
Fremantle: O'Sullivan (shoulder)