We all know the game should have been played at Fremantle Oval. We all now realise it would have given the loyal local fans an opportunity to say farewell and thanks to their much-improved AFLW team.
Turns out the Dockers were at the end of their road and met the Blues at the top of their form. In fact I’m not sure, despite their stellar season, Fremantle ever got to the level Carlton reached at Princes Park on Saturday.
At quarter time there were two possibilities – the Blues had wasted opportunities and would regret it once the Dockers settled or the home team had already put their mark on the game. It was the latter and the key was simple – Carlton won the ball. The players in Fremantle’s chaotic forward line looked to be in form but the ball seldom came near them.
The Docker issues began before the first kick. Captain Kara Donnellan withdrew due to a lingering knee complaint and fellow midfield gun Kara Hooker did well to even get to the airport.
Darcy Vescio gave the Blues an early spark and away they went – Lauren Brazzale played the game of her life, Madison Prespakis gave further evidence of her precocious talent, Breann Moody did some incredible things for one so tall and might have been robbed of the goal-of-the-year while Tayla Harris showed the same skill, poise and strength she’d displayed all week.
Kiara Bowers again worked hard for Freo, Evie Gooch was overworked and admirable in defence and Gemma Houghton always seemed the team’s greatest hope of recovery.
The next challenge for Carlton is simple enough – a trip to Adelaide to meet The Invincibles.
Fremantle supporters headed to Perth Stadium fearing more pain but only the masochists were disappointed. It had been a long week. Boom recruit Jesse Hogan couldn’t play and we were left wondering whether he needed better mates and then in the Sunday paper some bloke wrote a story about how our captain Nathan Fyfe was no good at footy.
You could understand the lack of confidence among the fans. However it is worth noting the bad Hogan news was good news for someone else – Cam McCarthy perhaps – and worth wondering whether the 19-34-year-old demographic reads newspapers*. So the players seemed unfazed by off-field events and looked full of new season confidence.
It’s hard to get a grasp on what happened. There seemed to be plenty of the bombing into the forward line that marked and marred Freo’s play in recent years but on Sunday they scored and scored and scored. Maybe the new 6-6-6 suited the Dockers, maybe they had a good grasp on the way North would play. The new kick-in rule didn’t have much to do with the improved Freo – the Roos didn’t score a behind until the third quarter.
And so McCarthy kicked five goals and the experts agree Fyfe was the best player on the ground.
On we go into the new week.
* On Saturday The Weekend West featured Fyfe’s new column. He introduced us to Freo’s new recruits. Two snippets caught my eye – one caused a wry smile and other a cold shiver (and made me wonder whether newspapers still have those crusty old sharp eyed sub-editors). Fyfe’s introduction to Hogan began: “Methodical preparer…” while Luke Valente had: “Versed me in a competition at training…”.