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Match report: Dockers knock off Demons

AFLW Highlights: Fremantle v Melbourne The Dockers and Demons clash in round 3 of the AFLW

FREMANTLE has upstaged premiership fancy Melbourne and breathed more life into its NAB AFL Women's campaign after clinching a thrilling five-point victory in a seesawing contest at Fremantle Oval on Sunday.

Inspired by two superb snapped goals from debutant Emily McGuire, the efficient Dockers overcame another slow start to notch back-to-back triumphs and end the Demons' unbeaten start to the season, 6.0 (36) to 4.7 (31).

Full match coverage and stats

Scores were deadlocked 30-all midway through the final term when McGuire brought the home crowd to their feet with her match-winning second major from the pocket.

Coach Michelle Cowan heaped praise on the first-gamer after Freo made it back-to-back victories.

"It was a great debut. She's got the absolute X-factor and she's an absolute talent," Cowan said.

"She's still got a lot to work on with her game, but the great thing about her is she wants to learn so much and is really hungry to be the best she can be."

The Dockers hung on grimly in the dying stages, with a desperate defensive effort in the goalsquare by Leah Mascall foiling a near-certain major by Aliesha Newman.

Freo celebrated wildly at the final siren, having fought back from a scoreless opening term dominated by the visitors with the breeze at their backs.

Led by superstar Daisy Pearce (23 disposals) the Demons peppered their goals from 15 inside 50s to Freo's none but could only manage 1.5, with Tegan Cunningham (two goals) the sole goalkicker for the quarter.

It came back to haunt them as Fremantle came to life in the second term following McGuire's first major, a brilliant snap after a one-handed pick up.

Dockers skipper Kara Donnellan (18 possessions) dragged her side back into the game after quarter-time and the Dockers took a surprise one-point lead into half-time after gun defender Ebony Antonio launched a near-50m roost. 

The third quarter was an arm wrestle. Freo surged to a handy 13-point buffer before Melbourne fought back to hit the front by one straight kick at the final change.

Pearce did everything in her power to get Melbourne over the line but, aside from the dominant opening term, didn't get enough support from her midfield sidekicks.

"The frustration (of the first quarter) sinks in after the game because at the time nearly everything was going right," Demons coach Mick Stinear said.

"Just the ability not to convert on the scoreboard was the issue, but at the time we thought if we can keep playing that way it'll come.

"It shows in the short format of the game you have to make the most of it, and Freo kicking six straight they certainly did that today."

Defender Evangeline Gooch (15 disposals) stood tall for the Dockers all match, with strong support from Lisa Webb (16) and Lara Filocamo (13).

The loss has knocked Melbourne from the top of the ladder, leapfrogged by the Brisbane Lions, and the Demons picked up an injury concern after Catherine Phillips suffered a high ankle sprain which will be monitored this week.

Fremantle remains in fifth spot but well-and-truly in the Grand Final hunt with a 2-1 record.


The game-changer
Fremantle's midfield was blown away in the opening exchanges and conceded a whopping 15-0 inside-50 count in the first term. But skipper Kara Donnellan lifted after the quarter-time break, getting to work around the stoppages and inspiring those around her with her grunt. Donnellan finished the game with 18 touches but also laid eight strong tackles – a game-high – to help turn the tide in Freo's direction.

The ladder now
Melbourne coughed up a golden opportunity to move a win clear on top of the ladder and have now slid to second spot on percentage. With five teams locked on two wins after three rounds it is a wide-open race to feature in this year's Grand Final. The Dockers sit in fifth spot after consecutive wins but need to boost their unhealthy 92.5 percentage. 

Who's that?
The Dockers could do with an imposing forward target and Emily McGuire might just fit the bill. When Freo needed a spark after yet another sluggish start, it was the debutant who delivered, raking in a loose ball, turning into space and snapping truly. It was one of the goals of the season, and was celebrated accordingly with McGuire's teammates rushing from everywhere to celebrate. Her second was almost as spectacular, but even more important. The 19-year-old Swan Districts premiership player looks to have a future.

Daisy or Dusty?
Melbourne superstar Daisy Pearce might have been watching Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin closely, judging by a classic 'don't argue' on Leah Mascall in the second term. As Pearce surged towards the 50m line in the second term she tucked the footy under her am and planted the perfect fend-off on Mascall in another highlight-reel moment from the Dees jet, who worked tirelessly all match. 


Say what?
"I thought our effort was outstanding and the girls were competing really hard in that first quarter. The wind was really effective heading that side of the ground … it was a really positive message (at quarter-time) and the girls really carried that tone throughout the game." – Fremantle coach Michelle Cowan. 

"It's (a feeling of) disappointment, because the girls had set themselves up really well in the first two weeks, but it's just the nature of the comp, it's tough every week. We had our moments and had our opportunities but we just didn't capitalise on them."  Melbourne coach Mick Stinear. 

What's next? 
The Dees will spend several days in Perth before flying to Alice Springs, where they will face winless Collingwood on Saturday night. Freo travels to take on top-of-the-table Brisbane in another crunch match.

FREMANTLE      0.0   2.0   4.0   6.0 (36)
MELBOURNE     1.5   1.5   4.6   4.7 (31) 

Fremantle: McGuire 2, Antonio, Lavell, Webb, Caulfield
Melbourne: Cunningham 2, Newman, Paxman

Fremantle: Donnellan, Gooch, Antonio, Webb, Filocamo, McGuire
Melbourne: Pearce, Paxman, Cunningham, O'Dea, Jakobsson 

Fremantle: Nil
Melbourne: Phillips (ankle) 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Howorth, Johansen, Heffernan

Official crowd: 3125 at Fremantle Oval