COLLINGWOOD has won a thrilling encounter against Fremantle by one point in stifling conditions at Rushton Park on Saturday.
After trading blows in the early stages of the first quarter, Collingwood booted four consecutive goals to enter the long break with a 12-point lead.
Fremantle hit the front early in the third term with two quick goals, but the Magpies replied through Alicia Eva and held firm under a barrage of forward 50 entries to record their second AFL Women's win.
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Collingwood coach Wayne Siekman said he was proud his team was able to overcome challenges with heat – much of Saturday’s game was played in temperatures in excess of 30-degrees – and travelling.
“I think the time difference is quite a tricky one,” Siekman said.
“We woke up early to try and make this a 1.30 (pm) game and not a 10.30 (am) game.”
“They were pretty cooked halfway through the second quarter. For the whole of the third quarter, you could see when they came off they had a towel around their head on the bench.
“A couple of players couldn’t go back on for two or three minutes, so they needed more time.”
Siekman said he expected the Dockers to start strongly, but thought his side could expose Fremantle in the third and fourth terms – a period in which Cowan’s side has typically struggled to compete.
“Fremantle always start games well and they always start the quarters well, but what’s happened in the last few weeks [is that] their second halves have fallen off a fraction because pressure is applied,” Siekman said.
“Today they rose to another level… They were quite loud and vocal.”
“We were just trying to control that footy and we did it well for the last 60 or 70 seconds.”
Dockers coach Michelle Cowan lamented her side’s inability to play out the full match, but preached optimism ahead of next week’s match against Carlton at Domain Stadium.
She said a 10-minute period either side of quarter-time – during which Collingwood kicked four unanswered goals – was costly for her team.
“You’ve got to play four quarters and that lapse in 10 minutes probably hurt us a little bit,” Cowan said.
“We had our opportunities.
“We’re devastated but we know the journey we’re on.
“We aren’t about wins and losses at this stage, we’re about building and getting better week to week.”
“There’s a lot of positives out of today and I thought we did play some really good footy."
With the victory, the Magpies’ slim chances of reaching the AFLW Grand Final remain alive, while Fremantle is still yet to register its first win.
It was over when…
Moana Hope stepped up, but this time in defence. The Collingwood spearhead had a quiet day in front of goal, watched closely by Fremantle defender Tayla Bresland. But her most valuable contribution came at the other end of the ground when Fremantle, one point in arrears, was fighting hard for the lead. With the ball sent skyward towards the Dockers’ 50 metre arc, Hope ran courageously back with the flight to reel in a strong mark and soak up the final few seconds left in the match. The siren sounded and the Magpies claimed a win by the barest of margins.
Work in progress
Their endeavour cannot be discredited, but Fremantle lacked polish. The Dockers finished the match with more disposals, clearances, inside 50s, marks inside 50, contested possessions and tackles than their opponents, but were hurt by an inability to convert their chances. Conversely, Collingwood scored from seven of its 15 inside 50s and moved the ball cleanly forward of centre.
Five minutes of madness
With its dominance at clearances, Fremantle spent large portions of the final quarter in attack. Many of the Dockers’ forwards were finding themselves in likely goal-kicking positions, only to be thwarted by the Magpies’ rigid defensive structure and fervent attack on the ball-carrier. What unfolded was a goalless final term, with Collingwood’s sole fourth quarter scoring shot the difference.
Though she may not be one of Collingwood’s more recognised players, Melissa Kuys had a telling impact on the game. Kuys came off the interchange bench to amass 17 possessions and four marks in the backline and midfield. Her fitness stood out in the 32-degree heat and her 14 kicks were largely used to good effect. On a day when marquee signings Hope and Emma King had just nine possessions between them, Kuys’ efforts were even more important.
“It was good to see that we could hang on and show a bit of resilience which is a positive thing for this team.” - Collingwood coach Wayne Siekman
“Statistically we probably should win the game, but I thought Collingwood fought really hard throughout the four quarters and held on to win deservingly.” - Fremantle coach Michelle Cowan
Fremantle will host Carlton on Friday afternoon at Domain Stadium in the club’s final home fixture for the 2017 AFLW season, with the match to start at 3.05pm WST. The Dockers are now playing for pride after their premiership ambitions were stalled by Adelaide in round four.
The Magpies cannot afford to lose another match and need results to fall perfectly their way for any chance to feature in the AFLW Grand Final on March 25. Their next challenge is to overcome the Giants at Olympic Park next Saturday. The match is set to start at 11.05 EDT.
FREMANTLE 2.1 2.1 4.2 4.7 (31)
COLLINGWOOD 3.0 4.1 5.1 5.2 (32)
Fremantle: Donnellan, Phillips, Houghton, Lavell
Collingwood: White, Hope, McIntosh, Cameron, Eva
Fremantle: Antonio, Filocamo, Houghton, Hooker.
Collingwood: Kuys, Stevens, Eva, King,
Umpires: Adams, Jones, Kirk-Williams
Crowd: 2800 at Rushton Park