COACHES are often asked if they could see anything in the demeanour of their players pre-game that could explain a performance – good or bad. Usually they can’t.
From my spot at Fremantle Oval on Saturday – on the fence, near the point post, to the the left of screen for those at home – I thought the Roos looked sloppy and listless in their warm up before the first bounce. They kicked with the wind (not as strong as in previous games) and didn’t score in the first quarter… so maybe there was something in my observation. It was the third quarter in succession that Fremantle’s AFLW team had kept their opponents scoreless.
Gemma Houghton marked and kicked accurately to start things for the Dockers, Sabreena Duffy scrambled one through and the scene was set. North Melbourne didn’t play poorly, and some Mo Hope (left) efficiency gave hope in the third quarter, but they just couldn’t match the intensity and scoring power of the home team. Nice passages of play by the Roos were regularly cut off by desperate defence, strong tackling and superior pace.
Just before half time the energy appeared to seep from the Fremantle forwards (with the notable exception of Houghton who sometimes ran past tiring team mates to put the pressure on) and in the last four minutes the Roos were able repel the ball from their defensive 50 with relative ease. Finally Stephanie Cain marked close to goal but fluffed the shot just seconds before the half time siren. A match winning lead should have been established by then.
Fremantle steadied after North’s moments of Hope in the third quarter and for the second week in a row should have won by more – this week it was 2.6 in the last quarter with two posters.
Ashlee Atkins played her best game for the year, kicked a goal and could’ve kicked more, Kiara Bowers was a midfield powerhouse, Ebony Antonio controlled the defence along with Philipa Seth, Houghton was again too hot to handle, I liked Gabby O’Sullivan’s game in attack, Duffy and Ashley Sharp each kicked two goals and were constant threats, Hayley Miller and Cain again provided pace and precision and Dana Hooker put herself into all sorts of dangerous spots and went down just before the siren and Parris Laurie did lots of good things and was still going strong at the end.
Emma King (right) dominated the ruck for the Roos and did some good things around the ground, Emma Kearney kicked the goal of the day and was in everything, Kaitlyn Ashmore ran hard and used the ball well, Jamie Stanton was outstanding and Hope finished with two goals and had a hand in another.
There’s been lots of diplomacy on display from Fremantle and North Melbourne but the truth is that the conference system was stupid and North should be playing finals and Fremantle shouldn’t be travelling to Princes Park this Saturday.
Fremantle 7.10 (52) North Melbourne 4.1 (25)