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AFLW: Freo celebrate historic day with victory

Watch the highlights from Saturday's 13-point win. The highlights from Freo's clash with Collingwood at Optus Stadium.

Fremantle has overcome a fast-starting Collingwood outfit to christen the club’s new home ground with a 13-point win in front of a record 41,975 fans on Saturday.

The Magpies had the better of their opponents early with slick ball movement and manic forward pressure creating the opportunity for Emma King to become the first goal-scorer at Optus Stadium.

The Fremantle Dockers kicked into gear and rounded out a free-flowing first quarter with three consecutive goals to establish a six-point lead at the first break. 

The Magpies failed to hit the scoreboard in the second quarter as Fremantle, led by reigning best-and-fairest Dana Hooker (20 possessions, six tackles and two goals) ran the ball in waves from defence. 

Collingwood rallied briefly in the third quarter on the back of Bernardi’s second goal but Fremantle returned fire in a heated fracas on the wing that left second-game NAB AFLW Rising Star nominee Chloe Molloy with a bruised jaw and ribs.  

Cowan’s brigade eventually ran out the game stronger, kicking six of the last eight goals to register its first win for 2018.

The Fremantle coach praised her players’ ability to maintain focused, despite fanfare surrounding the launch of football at Optus Stadium.  

"They were really focused on the four quarters, on coming to play and on preparing really well to play so I’m really proud of them in that regard," she said. 

"No doubt, the occasion is an incredible occasion and a really special day for our football club and women’s sport as a whole.

"It’s wonderful that our supporters and the WA community came out and supported today because they just made history."

Traditionally dour and defensive, Fremantle played with near-unrecognisable freedom for large portions of Saturday night. 
But Cowan said her team’s game-plan came about naturally, and was not a manifestation of the AFL’s controversial directive for more attractive football.

"It was a good conversation to have during the week but there wasn’t a whole lot of changes on our end," Cowan said. 

"From my end, we used the space and opened up the ground and it was a lot more free-flowing and certainly a lot more one-on-one’s.

"It was a fantastic game of football and I look forward to watching it back." 

Collingwood coach Wayne Siekman said his coaching staff were baffled by the first-quarter shift in momentum. 

"I think I’m still trying to work it out with the coaching group," Siekman said. 

"The players had a really good honest chat when they got in the rooms and hopefully they talked about that.

"Freo lifted and probably went in a little bit harder. We couldn’t quite rise it to the next level and that sort of cost us.” 

The first blow  
King’s off-the-ground effort might’ve kicked off proceedings for the visitors, but when Ashlee Atkins converted a difficult set shot from 40m, the home crowd found voice for the first time in its new home. Reigning best-and-fairest Dana Hooker then kept the ball rolling just minutes later, evading several tacklers before nailing a snap from 30m. 

Winning formula
Perhaps it was aided by the vast expanses of the Perth Stadium surface, but the AFL’s push for more free-flowing football seemed to pay early dividends on Saturday. Notorious last year for their turgid approach, the Fremantle Dockers consistently had extra players on the spread and moved the ball aggressively through the corridor. Unsurprisingly – given Magpies coach Wayne Siekman’s public support for the 'open play' policy – Collingwood adopted a similar approach, making for a fast-paced and exciting encounter. 

One to watch
Promising defender Chloe Molloy received plenty of plaudits for her composed debut against Carlton last week and on Saturday proved the effort was no flash in the pan. Selected with pick No.3 in last year’s draft, the 19-year-old was courageous standing underneath the ball and typically used her 15 disposals to good effect. 

Did you see that?
Hopes were high that when 54,000 tickets were sold for Saturday’s encounter, a new benchmark would be set for women’s sport in Australia. And so it proved, with the 41,975-strong crowd the largest in Australia’s female sporting history, breaking the previous record set at Adelaide Oval in 1929 for an exhibition Australian Rules match. 

Say what?
"I don’t think you get through AFLW game easy – there was a really high tackle and contested possession count." – Fremantle coach Michelle Cowan

"It was pretty heated and, obviously, they came with a pretty big plan. They wanted to go after a pretty big talent (Molloy). They had a tactic and it worked for them." – Collingwood coach Wayne Siekman

What’s next?
The Fremantle Dockers will savour the luxury of another week in Perth before hosting the Demons at Fremantle Oval next Sunday. Collingwood has the opportunity to break its duck against the winless Giants in the familiar surrounds of Olympic Park Oval next Sunday.

FREMANTLE                         3.0     4.1     5.3     6.4     (40)                  
COLLINGWOOD                   2.0     2.0     3.1     4.3     (27)            

Fremantle: Caulfield 2, Hooker 2, Atkins, Lavell
Collingwood: Bernardi 2, King, Lambert 

Fremantle: Hooker, Antonio, Caulfield, Webb, Donnellan
Collingwood: Kuys, Chiocci, Duffin, Molloy, Bernardi 

Fremantle: Nil
Collingwood: Stacey Livingstone (shoulder), Sophie Casey (concussion) 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Simmonds, Curtis, McPhee

Official crowd: 41,975 at Optus Stadium

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs