Fremantle defender Laura Pugh is putting together her best statistical season since arriving on the AFLW scene in 2019.

Playing her 29th career game against the Crows at the weekend, Pugh recorded the highest disposal tally of her career with 21, while also remaining heavily involved in the contest with five tackles.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 26: Laura Pugh of the Dockers looks to pass the ball during the 2022 AFLW Round 08 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Adelaide Crows at Fremantle Oval on February 26, 2022 In Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos)

Pugh led a Freo backline at Fremantle Oval on Saturday that was under siege by the Crows, with the visitors leading the inside 50 count for the match, 43 to 17.

The pinch was particularly felt late, when the Crows entered their forward arc 14 times in the last quarter in contrast to Freo’s two.

The defender is leading Fremantle’s rebound 50s this season, averaging 2.3 per game while also tallying an average of 5.5 intercept possessions per game in 2022.

Pugh’s 13 intercepts against the Crows was the second most of any Fremantle AFLW player ever, behind Janelle Cuthbertson with 17.*

“I set out to be more assertive (this year),” Pugh told The West Australian.

“Sometimes I can play a passive role or let things happen in the backline, but this year I’ve wanted to be more assertive and communicate with the other players that we can take things on and go for it.

“We have a confident group and that allows us to go for it this year, even if we sometimes make mistakes.

“We want to set the benchmark to be the best backline in the competition. You look at everyone who rotates through and how different we all play and the skills we bring."

- Laura Pugh

“It’s quite amazing the spread of skills and what we can achieve with that.”

01:23 Mins
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Laura Pugh highlights | Rd 6 v Carlton

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Senior coach Trent Cooper was full of praise for the reliable Pugh, impressed with the way she is leading Freo’s backline group.

“She has been fantastic, when we first drafted her we thought she could be this type of player, but she probably didn’t have the belief in herself,” Cooper said.

“Now that she has developed with her work in the gym and through being in the system for a while, she is not only playing extremely well, but we are more than happy with the way she is leading that backline.

“She is probably our smartest player down there and she directs the others really well.

“It’s only her fourth year in the system but ‘Pughy’ is our most experienced player in that backline - they are all relatively new to AFLW systems anyway and she is the one who directs and guides them and does an enormous job herself.”

*Stat courtesy of womens.afl’s Gemma Bastiani