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AFLW match report: Lions down Dockers in the wet

AFLW Highlights: Brisbane v Fremantle The Lions and Dockers clash in Round 4 of the AFLW
Nicole Hildebrand clears the ball for the Lions on Saturday - AFLW,Brisbane Lions,Fremantle Dockers
Nicole Hildebrand clears the ball for the Lions on Saturday

BRISBANE has kept its NAB AFL Women's premiership chances on track, eking out a seven-point win over Fremantle at a sodden South Pine Sports Complex on Saturday.

With Brisbane copping in excess of 200mm of rain in the past 48 hours, the match was always going to be a slog, and it turned out that way.

The Lions' Tasmanian connection of Jess Wuetschner (two) and Brittany Gibson kicked goals in the 3.4 (22) to 2.3 (15) victory.

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It was the Lions' third win from four matches and sets up a tantalising contest against premiership fancies Melbourne at Casey Fields on Friday night.

Wuetschner has now kicked seven goals in her excellent season.

The clever small forward iced victory with an opportunistic toe-poke from the goal-line early in the last term. 

Lions coach Craig Starcevich was relieved to win, saying once his team adjusted to the wet weather, they played some good footy.

"We've spent four months training and trying to be expansive out of the stoppages, dry-weather footy, trying to flick it around," Starcevich said.

"So it took a long time to switch the habits back to wet weather footy, which is to get it forward any way you can.

"Breaking that habit took forever.

"When it was up for grabs, I thought we put the foot down."


In a game where every clean possession was like gold, defender Kate Lutkins stood head-and-shoulders above everyone, using composure and skill to get the hosts out of trouble on many occasions.

She finished with 18 disposals, while midfielders Ally Anderson (18), Jamie Stanton (16) and Nat Exon (14 and seven tackles) worked tirelessly.

Wuetschner also finished with 18 touches to go with her two goals.

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For the Dockers, they will rue not capitalising on their first-quarter dominance.

They had nine inside 50s to one but just a solitary behind to show for their efforts.

Despite a strong mark and goal to Stacey Barr on the stroke of three-quarter time keeping them alive, Fremantle never quite looked like getting there.

"Brisbane played really well," Dockers coach Michelle Cowan said. "I thought they took a lot of their chances and that's why they came out with the win."

The hero
Other players have more flair, but Brisbane defender Kate Lutkins was a colossus in the wet conditions. While others fumbled and lost their feet, Lutkins was a rock in the backline when the home team was under pressure. She came off her opponent at crucial times, always kept the ball in front of her, and started many of the Lions' forward forays. 

The game-changer
With goals at a premium the impact of small forward Jess Wuetschner was profound. She's kicked more spectacular goals – see her round two effort against the Bulldogs and round three against the Blues – but her brace against the Dockers was just as critical. Wuetschner is smart, anticipates well and is an ace in the Lions' pack as they move towards the business end of the season. 


The ladder now
In a seven-game season, every match is crucial, but this one more so than most for the Lions. After the Western Bulldogs demolished Carlton on Friday night, Brisbane needed to win to keep pace at the top of the ladder. They sit second on percentage, and a win over Melbourne next week would be a huge step towards the Lions making another Grand Final appearance. 

Winning formula
After Fremantle totally dominated the first quarter, the Lions simplified things in the final three terms. These were conditions not made for finesse or chipping the ball around, and once Brisbane decided to get it forward at all costs, they never looked back. 

Say what?
"On a wet day, the result can go either way on the basis of a ball that slips out the back, but we thought on balance we pressured the opposition very well."
- Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich 

"I thought the pressure we had inside 50 to lock the footy in there was really good, but we couldn't quite capitalise and get the score on the board. I certainly couldn't question the girls' effort."
- Fremantle coach Michelle Cowan 

What’s next?
The Lions travel to Casey Fields on Friday night in what promises to be one of the matches of the season when they play Melbourne at 7.05pm (EDT). Fremantle is still desperately clinging to its top-two hopes and must beat Greater Western Sydney at Fremantle Oval next Saturday afternoon (2.05pm WST) to keep their chances alive.

BRISBANE    0.0   1.1   2.2   3.4 (22)
 0.1   0.2   1.3   2.3 (15)

Brisbane Lions: Wuetschner 2, Gibson
Fremantle: Barr, Atkins 

Brisbane Lions: Lutkins, Wuetschner, Stanton, Anderson, Exon
Fremantle: Filocamo, Donnellan, O'Sullivan, Antonio, Atkins 

Brisbane Lions: Shannon Campbell (illness) replaced in selected side by Emma Pittman
Fremantle: Nil 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Mirabile, Rowe, Howorth

Official crowd: 1500 (estimated) at South Pine Sports Complex (Brendale)