Kara Donnellan credited a frantic Fremantle for their efforts in stifling Geelong in an impressive 36-point victory against Geelong on Saturday at GMHBA Stadium.
Donnellan said it was a ‘hot footy’ in the midfield contest with both teams desperate to keep their finals hopes alive.
Fremantle laid a massive 90 tackles on the day, led by 19 from midfielder Kiara Bowers.
The win took Fremantle up to second place in Conference A with a 5-1 record, one win ahead of Adelaide, who play on Sunday.
“It was a must-win game for both clubs so we knew it would be really hard,” Donnellan said.
“Geelong for the first half really locked us down and played the way that they wanted.
“To our credit in the second half, we were able to get on top in that pressure aspect of the game and we were able to spill the ball in our way and get on the end of it.”
Donnellan gave effusive praise to Bowers for her efforts in the midfield.
On top of her 19 tackles, Bowers had 17 disposals, 10 contested possessions and eight clearances.
Most tackles in an #AFLW match— Swamp (@sirswampthing) March 9, 2019
21 - Ebony Marinoff - 2018 R04 v GWS
19 - KIARA BOWERS - 2019 R06 v GEEL
16 - Kiara Bowers - 2019 R05 v WBD
16 - Ebony Marinoff - 2018 R06 v FREM
16 - Sarah Hosking - 2018 R02 v GWS
@freodockers @aflwomens #AFLWCatsFreo
“It’s more than just her tackle pressure, it’s her presence around the ground,” Donnellan said.
“She’s a spiritual leader out there for the girls and she really helps everyone get over the line.
“She sets the tone of the game from the start in the guts. We’re so lucky to have her and very fortunate to have her running around and on the other team tackling us.”
Donnellan also praised versatile key position players Ebony Antonio for making the switch from forward to defence following the injury to key back Alex Williams.
“‘Eps’ (Antonio) obviously has played back the first two seasons and her foundations are as a defensive player,” Donnellan said.
“She was able to really slot in there and play a role for the team. She was really massive for us in the third quarter, the way she spoiled, brought the ball down to ground and her rebound 50s were fantastic.
“Hopefully, the scans come back positive for Alex but the group came together and were able to run out the game for Alex which was really great.”
Fremantle return home for another finals-like game against North Melbourne on Saturday at Fremantle Oval.
Donnellan said that Freo would look to make the most of the home support against the Kangaroos, who currently sit on top in Conference A on percentage ahead of Fremantle.
“The Freo fans have been fantastic for our first three home games and I’m hopeful that they can all get down next Saturday and get behind the girls and cheer us on,” Donnellan said.
“They’ve been a massive aspect of this season for us, they’re very loud and we feel like we have the best supporter base in the AFLW, so we look forward to having them around us against North.”
Fremantle take on North Melbourne at 4.10pm on Saturday 16 March at Fremantle Oval. Entry is free, subject to capacity.