Turns out I was in Melbourne for Fremantle’s first AFLW game. Unfortunately it clashed with the Bruce Springsteen concert I’d travelled over to see.
So I had my first experience at Fremantle Oval last Sunday. What struck me was that this historic first AFLW game in WA was treated by the home crowd as a game of footy rather than a novelty. The home crowd wanted the Dockers to win, the umpires mystified us and every fluffed kick, big hit and forward surge was greeted with appropriate oohs and aahs and groans and cheers from the highly engaged crowd of about 10 000.
The strange powerful cross breeze ensured there were plenty of fluffed kicks and the big hits were also plentiful in a surprisingly physical encounter.
Fremantle used handball well in close but Brisbane were a bit more expansive with their use of the ball – running hard to make space, kicking longer and setting up more dangerous attacking moves.
The Lions also had Tayla Harris, whose class shone through late in the game, and Sabrina Frederick-Traub who dominated the ruck at centre bounces and needed watching when she went forward. Harris kicked two goals as did the clever Jessica Wuetschner. Emma Zielke was good in the midfield and Kate Lutkins was solid.
Akec Makur Chuot was clearly the best of the Dockers – she took on various defensive tasks but also provided good run from defence. It might be worth trying Chuot in attack, she knows how to win the ball. Captain Kara Donnellan worked well in the midfield, I liked Stacey Barr in attack, Kirby Bentley marked well but her kicking was off on Sunday and Lara Filocamo was active but she might need to curb her ‘enthusiasm’ if she wants to avoid the MRP and umpies. Kim Mickle laid a couple of crunching early tackles but has done her knee and is out for the season… she hasn’t had much sporting luck in recent times.
At this early stage I’d suggest the third man up rule will create confusion in 2017 especially in the hands of technical officials.
A good game – Brisbane will be hard for anyone to beat.
Brisbane 5.6 (36) Fremantle 3.5 (23)